Carleton accepted 20.1 percent of applicants in this year’s admissions cycle, up from last year’s record-low 19.2 percent. Admissions accepted 1,384 students from a pool of 6,893 applicants to the class of 2024, a 5.9 percent decrease from last year’s applicant pool of 7,321 students, according to Vice President and Dean of Admissions Art Rodriguez.
39.1 percent of this year’s admitted students identify as U.S. students of color, and 9.3 percent are international students. 11 students will come from the greater Houston area as part of Carleton’s Posse Foundation cohort, and eight students were admitted through QuestBridge’s Match process. The Posse Foundation recruits a diverse group of talented students with leadership potential, typically from the same metropolitan area, and equips them with ongoing mentorship. As a partner college to Posse and QuestBridge, Carleton provides full-tuition scholarships to students recruited through both organizations.
The college hopes to enroll 525 students in the class of 2024.
Rodriguez said that many of Carleton’s peer institutions saw a decrease in applications, too. “Most schools that we overlap with were flat, and others range from four percent to up to 20 percent down from the previous year,” Rodriguez added.
Two significant changes that confronted Admissions in this year’s cycle include a rise in Early Decision (ED) applications and noticeable demographic shifts.
“We think we’re hitting this tipping point of the number of students applying early decision,” Rodriguez continued. “More students are applying early than in the past,” he added. This increase in ED applicants (Carleton saw increases of 12 and 9 percent, for ED rounds one and two respectively) could contribute to the overall decrease, said Rodriguez.
In February, the Carletonian reported that Admissions filled 171 of its 525 spots for the class of 2024 through ED1 and admitted 34 percent of applicants in that round. Now that the second ED round has passed, Admissions has accepted 232 total ED students.
This year’s cycle also saw decreases in applications from the Midwest, mid-Atlantic, and New England states.
Admissions has made a number of changes to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. For one, Admissions is providing a series of webinars with students, faculty, and Admissions and Student Financial Services personnel, as well as one-on-one Zoom conferences between admitted students and current students.
The financial impact of the pandemic might also affect need-based financial aid. At this point in time, COVID-19 will not affect the financial aid budget approved by College Council and the Board of Trustees, but Rodriguez anticipates that Student Financial Services will receive appeals from students and their families as their situations change, he said. Moreover, the college has roughly $1 million set aside in a reserve fund for financial aid in the event the college needs to overspend its predetermined budget.
“We can’t make changes to students’ financial aid packages with regard to what students anticipate,” Rodriguez said. “If the current situation is different than what it was a month ago, a half a year ago, at that point we can make changes to students’ financial aid.” Rodriguez added that situations like lost jobs and loss of income to families will warrant financial aid application reviews, and that Carleton is committed to meeting 100 percent of students’ demonstrated need.
If social distancing continues over the next few months, it is possible that more students than usual will request to take gap years—particularly international students, Rodriguez said. But Admissions isn’t seeing any significant changes in enrollment at this time. “The signs point to represent what we’ve seen in the past, but we still have essentially a month for students to make their decisions, so a lot can happen in that period of time,” Rodriguez added.