Section: News

Class of 2018 lowers acceptance rate

By Madeleine Thompson

As expected, it has been a record-breaking year for Kenyon’s Office of Admissions. After cutting the supplemental essay from Kenyon’s application requirements, Admissions anticipated an applicant influx of around 40 percent. The actual increase was 63 percent — with 6,627 applicants far surpassing last year’s 4,058.

“I cannot explain what the other 23 percent was,” Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jennifer Delahunty said. “There’s a factor in there that we don’t really quite understand.”
The offers of admissions sent out to the Class of 2018 constitute the most diverse class yet. This year, 371 domestic students of color were admitted, up from 335 last year, in addition to 91 international students from 41 countries.

“I think diversity writ large is key,” President Sean Decatur said. “Having a class that is not narrowly constructed but broadly constructed in terms of types of experiences that students bring to campus is important.”

In order to increase Kenyon’s reach outside of the U.S., Admissions sent a representative to South America for the first time. They also travelled to South Africa and the Middle East in addition to Europe, East Asia and India.

“We’re reaching out more globally and also using our alumni network more globally,” Delahunty said. “There’s a student admitted to this class who wasinterviewed in Jerusalem by one of our faculty members who was [there]. … Almost a third of our international applications were from China, but we’re trying to do a balanced approach.” Alumni interview requests in general increased by almost 300 percent this year, serving as a way for students to distinguish themselves without the supplement.

Domestically, most of the geographic diversity in this class comes from the West, where Admissions admitted 63 more students than last year. Decatur noted that attracting students from various regions of the U.S. will also help bring more racial diversity. “We need to make sure we are a place where students of color are going to be comfortable,” Decatur said. “To me, that’s tightly coupled to geographic diversity. … Some areas that I think we need to keep an eye on are the South and the Southwest, and other parts of the West where … the population of the U.S. is shifting and we’re going to see more 18-year-olds coming from those areas.”

Mean SAT and ACT scores both went up, and the number of accepted first-generation students increased to 119 from 113 last year, though this was not the all-time high. The number of students admitted from public schools increased by 57, while the number admitted from private schools decreased by eight.

Nineteen million dollars of financial aid was offered to admitted students, but based on the projected class size, Director of Financial Aid Craig Daugherty expects to stay within the allotted budget of $7.6 million. “We have a consulting firm who helps us maximize our expenditures and helps with yield projections, and we are comfortable with offering this amount to the Class of 2018,” Daugherty wrote in an email.

Delahunty is adamant that despite not having a supplement, the quality of this year’s applicants did not disappoint. Delahunty and her staff offered admission to 1,631 of them, bringing the acceptance rate down to 24.5 percent from last year’s 38.2 percent. “One of the things we marvelled at is … there’s a lot of students with a lot of strong opinions in this class,” Delahunty said.
One student’s essay told the story of how the student testified before a school board in support of a teacher who was suspended for reprimanding another student for making a homophobic comment. Another student stood up to her school principal for making sexist comments about female students’ dress.
“I was struck by the number of kids in this class who were not afraid to speak up in a respectful way for what they believe in,” Delahunty said. “The other thing that was amazing was … you can’t believe the names of the kids in this class. … First of all, there were about 130 girls with the name of Rose. We figured it coincided with the opening of Titanic,” which premiered in 1997. Some other potential monikers to look out for on campus next year include Calypso, Tuscany, Galatia and Buster.
Students must accept or decline their offers of admission by May 1.

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