The Office of Admissions received a total of 7,029 applications for the Class of 2017, a 4.7 percent increase over last year’s total of 6,716, and a new record total in the history of the College.
The Early Decision I (ED I) application process earlier this academic year also saw a new record total of applicants, 606. This year, the College admitted 189 students in ED I, an increase from 172 the previous year. In contrast, this year’s ED II application pool declined slightly compared to last year.
A growth in total applications has been a trend over the last decade, going from under 5,000 in 2000, to the new record this year. When asked if the Office of Admissions could offer an explanation for the increase, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn responded that the College spoke for itself.
“I think that more and more people are finding out about what a great place Bowdoin is. We can go out and spin all we want and talk about it, but if it’s not actually a great place then I don’t think we’d see what we’re seeing,” he said.
He argued that Admissions wasn’t focused on the quantity of the application, but rather the quality.
“We don’t focus on getting more applications,” he said. “The emphasis is all on the quality of the people who do apply, and I’ve said to them many times, I think if we do a decent job in admissions, that the pool will probably get a bit bigger every year, and we will reach more high schools, and more and more people will understand that it is a great place.”
Demographically, admissions data reflects this application increase across the board. Applications from women are up five percent and from men up four percent. Applications from white students rose by one percent while applications from students identifying as multicultural rose by 10 percent. The number of high schools represented in the applicant pool rose by three percent to 3,172, another record high.
One of the more interesting shifts in the application pool is geographic. This year saw a five percent decrease in students applying from Maine, and a 20 percent increase in students applying from the West.
Meiklejohn offered his explanation for the change: “In the bigger picture, all the data reports the sliding population in New England, in the Northeast generally, and in particular Maine has a decreasing population of high school graduates, while there’s population growth in other parts of the country.”
ED II decisions are due to be both mailed and—in a new move this year prompted by postal delays in previous years—emailed out to students in mid-February. Regular admissions decisions will follow later in the year. At the moment, the Office of Admissions estimates the 2017 class size to be about 485 students.
Meiklejohn noted that Admissions was just at the start of evaluating the Regular Decision applications, but in his view, “all signs point to another very strong and interesting group of students applying to Bowdoin.”