Admissions Seeks Applicant Increase


St. Mary’s admissions staff has faced some serious challenges over the past few years, and is looking for ways to increase student enrollment and college income. Applicants have been dropping off, with a 17 percent drop from 2011-2012. According to Dean of Admissions and Financial aid Pat Goldsmith, “Colleges are often judged by how selective they are. If a place is really popular, and gets lots of applications, people assume it must be a great place. This may be an erroneous conclusion, but lots of folks still reason this way.” For comparison, Harvard is at 5 percent, and a school like ours should hover at 50 percent or less. As a tuition driven institution, around 70 percent of funds come from student tuition, and less applicants hurts that fund.
During a presentation surrounding Admissions, Dean Goldsmith offered a few reasons for this drop. They began to use the Common App, an easier college application, in the hopes of attracting students, but it may have added to confusion, since last year they were using that as well as their own unique St. Mary’s application. Staff was also short, and could not visit as many schools as usual.
New goals for the 2012-13 year include increasing the number of applicants and out of state enrollment (out of state pays more, more funds for college), and creating new initiatives to attract students. One of those is the Common App, which simplifies the application process, as many current students may remember. They are also buying names of students from the College Board who took the PSAT’s and want colleges to contact them. Another goal is to widen the funnel, so to speak, of places to recruit students. More National Merit students are also desired as well as more students in the tops of their classes.
Financial aid is a serious issue for the college. Many students may not otherwise be able to attend the college without merit or need based aid. President Urgo would like to focus on need based aid more, and currently the college has gone from 25 percent need and 75 percent merit to an even 50/50 split. St. Mary’s evaluates financial admissions only after looking at all other factors for a student, and in this way they can plan their incoming class better. Jean Fetter, Dean of Admissions at Stanford, concluded the presentation about the process, calling it “an imperfect art and a constant balancing act.”
A few students were in attendance, but the majority were either professors or other adults. According to one Professor, Bob Paul, “I’ve been concerned about admissions ever since I came, it touches every facet of the college, and I want polices to give us the best students possible.”