Section: Opinion

Lack of supplement drives diversity

By Hannah Lee Leidy

This past Thursday and Friday, hundreds of admitted students and their families arrived at Kenyon College for the first “Thumbs Up” program of the year. The campus is currently readying itself for the second group of admitted students this weekend. The result is simple: more and more students are applying to Kenyon each year, allowing Admissions to turn away more and more applicants.

Consequently, Kenyon is growing more selective in the increasing applicant pool each year.  Its prestige and admission ranks continue to garner national respect. Kenyon’s application process is more accessible since the removal of the writing supplement, but does that mean it’s too easy?

For the April 2 issue of the Collegian, Matthew Eley wrote an article titled “Drop Common App.” His piece describes the application process post-supplement as Kenyon’s way to up the number of applications it receives, thereby lowering its acceptance rate. Eley satirically compares Kenyon’s simple application process to Ted Cruz’s idea of mailing postcard-size tax forms to Americans.

However, while a post-supplement application does seem simpler, Kenyon isn’t lowering its standards in any way by using it. In fact, with merely the Common Application and no writing supplement, thousands of applicants have to sell themselves to Kenyon in a transcript, 10 extracurricular slots and a 650-word essay.  Having multiple chances to write about why a college should accept you is much easier than trying to nail it in one clean essay.

Kenyon also receives the Common Application free of charge, which offers low-income students the opportunity to apply to a school they might be unable to apply to otherwise due to submission fees. This is a benefit to Kenyon’s student body, which lacks economic diversity. Kenyon’s socioeconomically homogeneous population often turns off many Kenyon students and prospective students, but free submission of the Common Application (along with more scholarships) could change that.

Without a writing supplement, more students are able to apply to Kenyon because they don’t have to spend time writing multiple essays. The majority of high school seniors divide their time between taking AP/IB classes, participating in extracurricular activities and working jobs, all of which increase applicants’ chances of getting accepted to and attending colleges. It’s hard for these busy students to find the time to breathe, much less spend hours working on countless college writing supplements. Kenyon allows these students to make the best use of their time by focusing on their studies and submitting one simple application.

The admitted classes’ GPAs and SAT and ACT scores continue to climb higher each year, and since dropping the writing supplement, Kenyon has been able to mold classes boasting some of the most impressive credentials the College has seen yet. So is “Common Application only” a game the admissions office wants to play for the sole purpose of lowering its acceptance rate? Or is it Kenyon’s way of shaping the best incoming class it can while ensuring that anyone can apply? You decide.

Hannah Lee Leidy ’18 is undeclared from Elizabeth City, N.C. Contact her at leidyh@kenyon.edu.

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