The Office of Admissions has sent acceptance letters to 802 of 5,829 regular decision applicants, resulting in a 13.8 percent regular decision acceptance rate. Overall, 1,079 prospective students have been admitted to the Class of 2016—a 16.1 percent overall acceptance rate. The College received 6,716 applications this year, marking a 2 percent increase from last year.
There was an 18 percent rise in applications from students of color compared to last year, a 13 percent increase from international students, a 29 percent increase in the number of applications from students in the Southwest, and a 22 percent raise in the South.
Maine, on the other hand, experienced a 12 percent drop in applications, with 3 percent fewer applicants from the rest of New England. As a whole, the application pool included 185 students with a parent or grandparent who attended Bowdoin.
Even though neither SAT nor ACT scores are required for applicants, 85 percent of the admitted students did send them in. The median scores for all applicants this year was a 1380 on the SAT mathematics and critical reading sections, and a 31 on the composite ACT. According to Scott Meiklejohn, the dean of admissions and financial aid, the averages of the enrolled class are often higher than the applicant average, and he expects the SAT median to come in at around a 1410.
In a Bowdoin Daily Sun column, Meiklejohn wrote, "My favorite bit of admissions data is the number of different high schools that send us at least one applicant each year."
This year witnessed a 6 percent increase in the number of high schools represented in the applicant pool, up to 3,066—nearly double the number from a decade ago. Sixty-one percent of the applicants to the Class of 2016 went to public high schools, with 39 percent hailing from parochial or private institutions.
"We are now reaching out to more high schools," Meikeljohn said in an interview. "A lot of private schools have known about Bowdoin for a while, but there are about 25,000 public high schools from which we've never had an applicant. We are trying to introduce ourselves to those schools—those students—where liberal arts colleges are not as well known."
"I think our responsibility to the College is to pay close attention to all applicants," he added. "The students we are admitting are fantastic, but the students who we deny are too."
But with only a dozen admissions counselors, only so many high school visits can be arranged. In recent years, Bowdoin alumni have increasingly represented the school at college fairs, and admissions has paid for high school counselors to fly to Maine and visit the campus.
"You can't only visit places you've never heard of, you also want to go to places that send applicants every year," Meiklejohn said. "You could probably argue that the ripple effect is greater when a counselor comes here than it is for having a friendly admissions officer show up for an hour to a high school in Tucson."
While there are many applicants who conducted interviews or campus visits earlier on, Meiklejohn said it is normal to have 22 or 23 percent of the pool consist of what his office calls "stealth applicants—those whose applications arrive around December 30 after hearing about Bowdoin from an independent source and who haven't taken the so-called traditional steps of going to college fairs, doing overnights, and interviews."
In addition to the accepted students, Meiklejohn said there are approximately 1,300 additional applicants who were wait listed, of which he predicted roughly 600 will accept. The yield model the office works with can only predict so precisely how many accepted students will choose to attend Bowdoin, but the expected class size of incoming students is currently at 493.
"The perfect thing is to come in on May 1 somewhere around 485," Meiklejohn said. "We would predictably lose about 20 students over the summer to gap years or getting off someone else's wait list, so in the dream scenario, you have 25 or 30 people off the waitlist."
The past two years, however, have yielded abnormally high and slightly low amounts of students, respectively, so it is hard to predict exactly what percentage of students accepted in regular decision will accept a spot.
"You can get away with having large classes every once in a while, but you have to stay away from having two of them in a four-year period," said Meiklejohn. "You have to protect on the high side, because there's not many places to put even 25 extra people."
For the first time ever, the total amount of student aid is projected to surpass $30 million in the 2012-2013 school year. Meiklejohn said that recently, there has been an effort to increase the aid budget at a rate above the tuition hikes, and that the College tweaked the system this year to be "slightly more generous in the way we review certain family assets to add some dollars."
When asked what quirks popped up in the accepted students' applications, Meiklejohn laughed.
"We had a lot of ukulele players this year," he said. "We're speculating that Eddie Vedder is inspiring them."
Admitted student days will take place on April 9, 16 and 20, and accepted students have until May 1 to make their decisions.