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Early Decision sees 34% acceptance rate; demographics similar to recent years

With the 2020 admissions cycle in full swing, the results of Carleton’s Early Decision 1 (ED1) option show a decrease in acceptance rate while demographics remain in line with what Carleton has seen in recent years. Results for Carleton’s ED1 option were released on December 15, 2019. The second round of Early Decision is currently underway, with outcomes to be released on February 15.

Carleton Admissions filled 171 of its 525 spots for the class of 2024 through ED1 and accepted 34 percent of applicants. This percentage was similar to what Carleton saw in 2018, but the ED1 acceptance rate has otherwise been higher throughout the past five years.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Art Rodriguez ’96 explained that committee sessions for this first wave of applicants concluded over a month ago, meaning that the class of 2024 is beginning to take shape. Rodriguez is serving his first year in the position. “My goal is to maintain the character of Carleton and to not lose sight of it,” he said.

Rodriguez noted that geographically, acceptances were distributed relatively similar to last year’s ED1. For ED1 this year, 14 percent of acceptees were Minnesotan and 9 percent were international. Additionally, 35 percent of students self-identified as students of color, 14.6 percent are first-generation college students, and 53 percent will receive financial aid.

He further said that ED1 demographics generally embody those which are desired for the incoming class as a whole. “When you look at various factors there is not a significant difference. We want ED1 students to look just like everybody else,” Rodriguez said.

“Two goals we have when we think about building our class are supporting the middle-income population as well as students who are low-income or require substantial financial aid to be here,” explained Rodriguez. He also noted that financial accessibility “is something we are thinking about and discussing as we look at students’ experiences, to make sure that we have a real reflection of socioeconomic diversity on campus.”

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, many institutions like Carleton have seen an increase in the number of students who are applying, and are interested in enrolling at the college,” Rodriguez explained. “We are seeing a lot more diversity across a wide range of factors, whether it is geographic diversity, diversity across race and ethnicity, and an increasing amount of international students,” he continued. “We are seeing a growing number of students who are first-generation applying to Carleton.”

The number of first-generation ED1 applicants increased by 2 percent compared to the 2019 ED1 breakdown, though it is 0.4 percent less than the percentage of ED1 first-generation students in 2016.

Rodriguez suggested that admitting a smaller fraction of the incoming class via early decision helps Carleton create a more diverse class. “If you look at some institutions, they may be admitting up to half of their class through early decision, so that leaves a smaller fraction they have to fill,” he explained. “Through ED1 and our second round, we fill around 40% of the class. We are at the lower end in terms of how we are choosing to utilize early decision. This is really because, through our process, we want to enroll as many different kinds of students as we can. Having more flexibility in regular decision allows us to do that.”

During the review of this year’s ED1 applications, “the thing that came up frequently was this notion of the Carleton fit,” according to Rodriguez. “Being a good fit for Carleton means representing who we want to see on-campus. That often drives a discussion in committee about, do we see this student just really appreciating being a part of the Carleton community and being seen as a Carl? I find that this is more present here than other places I have been working at, and I appreciate that.”

The trends Rodriguez highlightets suggest that change from previous admissions cycles is likely to be rather gradual this year, though figures are not yet concrete. Associate Dean of Admissions Adam Webster explained, “We never truly know what comes of a class until they arrive the following September. There will be students who take gap years, withdraw for one reason or another, or do not matriculate for other reasons. We’re also in the midst of selecting the bookend of Early Decision ED 2 and so the numbers you’re seeing are incomplete.”

Looking ahead, Rodriguez said, “We’ll be moving into more of the heavy lifting come February through part of March.” He explained that going forward, his goal is to maintain the character of Carleton while also focusing on diversity efforts, such as increasing first-generation representation and geographic diversity. “I think about how those factors play into student experiences,” Rodriguez concluded.

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