Applications Up By 40 Percent, Acceptance Rate More Selective for Class of 2018

Emily Lin-Jones

According to the Office of Admissions, the number of applicants to the college rose by 40 percent this year, resulting in one of the most selective acceptance rates in recent memory. The office mailed out acceptance letters to potential members of the class of 2018 last week.

“In general we saw great growth across the board in terms of applications,” said Dean of Admission Tony Cabasco.

The Office of Admissions has received 3,791 applications as of last Friday, and admitted around 39.5 percent of the students who applied. Compared to the 2,600 applications received last year (the lowest number in the past five years), the flood of applications comes as something of a relief to admissions officers.

“There were some concerns because we’ve had modest declines [in applications] over the past couple years,” said Cabasco, citing the economic downturn and a shrinking pool of high school graduates as possible causes for the decline.

The admissions office employed new techniques this year in an attempt to draw in more applications. According to Cabasco, one of the most successful changes was offering internship grants to students who submitted their applications before Dec. 15, a month before the regular admission deadline.

Students who met this deadline and choose to attend Whitman will receive preference when they apply for the spring or summer Whitman Internship Grant from the Student Engagement Center, provided their application meets all other requirements for the grant.

“For students and parents, the idea of an internship is attractive … We hoped that would create an incentive for students to submit their applications earlier,” said Cabasco.

He also noted that when applicant pools increase significantly, colleges sometimes also see a decline in the overall quality or demonstrated interest of applicants, which was not the case this year.

“[The internship grant] seems to work in attracting ‘Whitman-type’ students,” said Cabasco. He said he hopes that the Admissions Office will continue to be able to offer the promise of internship funding to applicants in future years.

Demographically, the majority of admitted students still hail from the “Big 3” of Washington, California, and Oregon. But the admissions office also admitted more international students this year than ever, around 72 hailing from China, Mexico, Bhutan and other countries.

25 percent of admitted students are students of color, roughly in line with the proportion of non-international students of color admitted last year which was around 23 percent. Moreover, nine percent of admitted students are first-generation college students.

Admitted students have until May 1 to confirm or decline their place in Whitman’s class of 2018.