Profile released of admitted students

By Annie Lewine

Over the past two weeks, Macalester’s admissions office finalized admissions decisions and mailed acceptance letters to the class of 2011.In eight of the past nine years, Macalester has experienced all time highs in the number of applicants, according to Lorne Robinson, dean of admissions and financial aid.

“Though applications to most highly selective colleges have increased during this time period, many schools have had ups and downs,” Robinson said. “Consistent, steady increase over that time period is less common.”

Over the past ten years, the number of applicants to Macalester has increased from 3,136 in 1997 to 4,967 this year, allowing Macalester to become more selective; the percentage of accepted applicants has decreased from 54 percent in 1997 to 39.5 percent this year.

Over one thousand high schools are represented in the admitted class, including students from all fifty states and from 84 countries. The 1,881 students accepted this year include 329 national merit semifinalists and scholars, National Achievement semifinalists or National Hispanic scholars. 1,429 students are in the top ten percent of their class, there are 489 domestic students of color, and 263 students have lived in another country for at least six months.

The top nine states represented in the admitted class are, in order, Minnesota, California, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon and Iowa. Texas and Colorado are tied as the tenth most represented states. In the past few years there has been an increase in applicants from states out of the Midwest such as California and New York in particular, but a decrease in the number of international applicants. After reaching a high of 1,188 in 2003, the number of international applicants declined to 986 this year.

Laurie Hamre, dean of students, attributes the increases to Macalester’s growing national reputation. However, the increasing selectivity does not necessarily mean a change in the student body.

“The national exposure we have received the past few years has increased the visibility of the college,” Hamre said. “In one respect it seems like the rest of the world is just learning what we have known for some time – Macalester is a high quality place with great faculty and students. I do not know if it will change our student body much because the students that end up enrolling must resonate with Macalester.”

Some students have speculated that in addition to the increasing number of applications, the shift to need-aware admissions could change the incoming student body in a negative way.

“I think that the shift to need aware admission could really change the student body,” Kate Ballard ’09 said. “There’s such tension about elitism at Macalester already that this change can’t really help with the tensions. I think that.this kind of admissions policy could potentially discourage socio-economic diversity – which seems very un-Macalester”

However, Hamre is confident that the shift to need-aware admissions will not harm Macalester’s student body.

“The new need aware policy for the College affects such a small percentage of each class that I can’t imagine it will dramatically change the student body,” Hamre said. “Support of financial aid is still extremely important if we are to meet our goals of a highly able and diverse student body.”

Macalester still meets 100 percent of every admitted student’s financial need, said Robinson.

“It’s tough to speculate as to how these changes might affect the Macalester student body in the future,” Robinson said. “However, I think we’re still admitting students who are good “fits” with Macalester – both academically and personally.