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Class of 2023 currently over-enrolled, more diverse than anticipated

After Wednesday, May 1, National College Decision Day, 545 of the 1,401 students admitted to Carleton decided to join the class of 2023, marking a 38.9 percent yield. According to Vice President and Dean of Admissions Paul Thiboutot, the college had a target enrollment of 520 students, meaning that the class of 2023 is over-enrolled. 

The class of 2023 consists of 33 percent domestic students of color, 11 percent international students, and 12 percent first-generation college students. In addition, students in the incoming class come from 46 states and about 30 countries, according to Thiboutot. 

In April, the Carletonian reported that at least 40 percent of this year’s admitted students identify as U.S. students of color or international students. While Thiboutot was reluctant to speculate about the demographics of the incoming class at the time, it is now clear that 44 percent of the incoming class identifies as U.S. students of color or international students, surpassing Admissions’ expectations and signifying a strong final note to the retiring dean’s career.

Thiboutot also shared that, for the incoming class, “we are at a high of 37 percent middle-income students, well above our 30 percent guardrail on this metric for financial aid. Also, 55 percent of students are receiving need-based scholarship aid from the college, again within our target for this metric.” 

Last May, the Carletonian reported that the Admissions and Financial Aid Committee (AFAC) tracks socioeconomic diversity for each class after admission through the use of a middle-income guardrail, which was implemented after a 2012 working group found that the proportion of middle-income Carleton students had dropped by between 15 and 20 percent over the preceding 20 years. 

AFAC representatives explained last May that the 30 percent guardrail for middle-income student enrollment does not mean that the college prioritizes enrolling middle-income students over low-income students. Instead, the point of the guardrail is to avoid a “barbell effect,” meaning mostly high-income and low-income students on campus. The middle-income guardrail metric, unique to Carleton, helps the college track and stabilize socioeconomic diversity. The college defines middle-income as an annual household income between $42,000 and $170,000. 

On Thursday, May 9, a waitlisted student wrote on college admissions forum College Confidential that the class of 2023 was overenrolled and would not be accepting students off the waitlist, per an official letter. Thiboutot confirmed that “we are slightly over-enrolled for the moment, and if this remains a typical year in late withdrawals from the class, what is termed ‘summer melt’ in our business, then we will be spot-on in the fall without turning to the waitlist.”

“Summer melt,” Thiboutot explained, “refers to students withdrawing from the class after having deposited by May 1 due to being admitted from the waitlist of another college or deciding to request a gap year before starting at Carleton.” Carleton’s average summer melt is about 25 students, leading Admissions to expect the final entering class size to decrease toward the target of 520, according to Thiboutot.

For now, this is “an almost perfect result,” Thiboutot said. 

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