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College House applications down 17%, lowest in the last five years

February 16, 2018

WHO WANTS TO LIVE IN A COLLEGE HOUSE?: Applications to live in College Houses dropped this year, although fewer spaces in Houses will be available to sophomores next year as Ladd House will be senior-only housing.

The number of College House applicants reached a five-year low this year, with 247 students competing for approximately 179 spots. The College House applicant pool for next year is smaller than any in the past five years. Despite fewer students applying to live in College Houses, the acceptance rate will be consistent with the last three years, due to Ladd House becoming senior housing.

Last year, 290 students applied. Without Ladd, however, there are 22 fewer spots available for non-senior applicants, so the acceptance rate will remain around 73 percent, according to Assistant Director of Residential Life (ResLife) Mariana Centeno.

Of the seven houses available to non-seniors, MacMillan House received the most applications, narrowly surpassing Quinby House by only one block. MacMillan received the most applications last year as well, and Quinby was also second. Reed House received the third most applications this year. Unlike in previous years, the application did not ask applicants to put a house as their first choice, but rather asked them to select all of the houses they would be willing to live in if accepted.

Changing Ladd to senior-only housing was dependent on whether enough seniors would apply to fill the House—a threshold that was reached only after ResLife extended the deadline an additional week.

The change comes as the College reevaluates housing options for upperclass students and seeks to bring energy to the social scene on campus.

“People move off campus, parties move off campus,” said Syd Benjamin ’19, who applied to live in Ladd next year. “I think having a group of seniors get together and think about how we want to actively shape campus, bring everyone back to this space, feel welcome and feel like this is still our campus is going to be really cool.”

While events will still be open to the entire campus, Ladd House members will try to attract more upperclass students to their parties.

“Just having a group of upperclassmen in the College House space will draw people there. I thought that would be a good thing to be a part of,” said Ryan St. Pierre ’19, another Ladd applicant.

Many rising senior applicants, including both Benjamin and St. Pierre, have already lived in a College House and are familiar with what makes a successful event. However, St. Pierre added that planning for an upperclass population may be different and therefore more difficult.

“When planning an event [as another College House you are] trying to target first years, whereas we’re going to be targeting upperclassmen … It’s going to be new and it’s kind of an unknown,” he said.

While House members will not have as many responsibilities that cater to the first-year experience, Ladd will continue to partner with other groups to hold events traditionally held at the house, such as Epicuria and the Fall Art Show.

First years applying to College Houses had to consider the unavailability of Ladd, some continuing with the process despite losing Ladd.

“As a Ladd affiliate, I was definitely bummed. Ladd was one of my top choices because it is conveniently located on campus and I like the rooms and the dynamic between the current house members,” said Will Saint-Amour ’21. He still applied to live in a College House.

Other first years, such as Michael Donovan ’21, decided to forego College Houses once Ladd was out of the running.

“I was going to apply to Ladd, but given the policy changes we decided to not block [to any house],” Donovan said. He now has other housing options in mind for next year but noted, “The whole thing got more complicated after the [College House] debacle.”

ResLife also changed the selection process for College Houses this year. Last year applicants were vetted through two committees, while this year applicants will only go through one. Centeno said that one committee allows for ResLife to create Houses at the same time and to identify strong applicants and place them in a House that best fits their interests.

“Every year we change the application a little bit to get at different measures. How committed they are to the first-year experience is a huge part of living in a House,” said Centeno. “What kinds of goals do they have for the House? … No one block is going to be the same as the other block.”

Senior applicants to Ladd will hear if they are accepted this week, while other College House applicants will be notified on April 3.



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