College looking at possibility of future expansion
Lafayette’s Office of Admissions received the largest applicant pool to date this year, tallying just fewer than 8,100 prospective students for the class of 2020.
The rise was intentional on behalf of admissions, particularly after the school saw a drop in application numbers last year, according to Vice President for Enrollment Management Greg MacDonald.
In 2014, Lafayette received 7,789 applicants for the Class of 2018. The next year, that number dropped to 7,455 applicants for the Class of 2019.
“Crossing 8,000 was a goal that was two years in the making,” MacDonald said.
With the increase in overall applications has also come an increase in ethnically diverse applicants. According to an Applicant Comparison report provided by Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Carol Rowlands, the college has seen more international interest as well as a significant increase in applications from black and Hispanic students. One hundred thirty-fivedifferent countries are represented thus far in the class of 2020, which is11 more than last year.
The college has also been working to expand its domestic reach beyond the East coast.
“We’ve had more applicants from the West Coast, more applicants from the Midwest, from the South,” President Alison Byerly said. “They [admissions] have been raising our profile in those areas too, and those are all [relatively] new markets.”
“We have admissions officers who are gone for two weeks on the West Coast, getting back, and 24 hours later going out on their next trip into another market,” said MacDoanld, who adds that the dedication of his officers that makes him proud.
“We’re going to have a deeper, more talented, more diverse pool of students to choose from than we’ve ever had,” MacDonald said.
According to Byerly, the increase in applications to Lafayette may likely lead to a gradual expansion of the school.
“The presidential working group is considering expanding the enrollment size of the college,” Byerly said. “We’re getting to the point now of preparing to bring a recommendation to the board [of trustees].”
Byerly said that she and the presidential working group will use the expanded applicant pool as one of the reasons for expanding the college.
“One of the things that we will say is that we have such a strong applicant pool that there are many, many very good, qualified students that we simply don’t have the space to admit,” Byerly said.
At the same time, the admissions team acknowledges the need to balance admittance and acceptance rate.
“I think when we position ourselves against our peers we’re conscious of our acceptance rate,” said Dean of Admissions Matt Hyde.“But that’s not how we define success.”
“I think in the ether out there, the misnomer is that selectivity equals prestige and prestige equals quality,” Hyde added.“That’s the belief, and it’s completely false. But to a point we need to be aware of that game, and we happily play it.”
Lafayette shares applicant pool data with approximately 20 other schools of similar caliber, according to MacDonald, but the admissions team has yet to see this information for the class of 2020. The admissions team has yet to read every application, but say they look forward to exploring the possibilities for Lafayette’s 185th class.