In the thick of remote working conditions and a general sense of unease spurred by the coronavirus crisis, the Office of Admissions released admissions decisions for the class of 2024 on March 19, admitting 1,248 applicants out of a record-breaking 10,601 applications.
The admissions cycle saw an increase in admissions rate from 10.8 percent to 11.8 percent, which Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Matthew McGann noted was in part because the Office of Admissions “anticipates a yield rate similar to, or perhaps a little lower than, last year.” McGann also said that the office is planning for a class of 473 students, and that they intended to admit additional students off the waitlist to meet that target. The college has recently faced challenges with yield rates, most remarkably with the class of 2022, which saw an over-enrollment that led to tens of first year students housed in triple room accomodations.
Demographically, the admitted class of 2024 is just as or more diverse than the class of 2023, with 60 percent of the admitted class identifying as U.S. students of color compared to 56 percent in last year’s admitted class. This year’s admitted students hailed from 48 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., while the 11 percent of international students in the admitted class represented 55 different countries. According to McGann, “another 10 percent [of the admitted class] are U.S. citizens who are dual citizens or have multiple citizenships.”
The applicant pool also saw a significant number of first-generation students, who comprise 19 percent of the admitted class of 2024. Additionally, “two percent of admitted students do not identify on the gender binary, the highest number we've seen since these questions were first introduced on the application,” said McGann.
While admitted students would traditionally have the opportunity to get a sense of life at the college through open houses and campus tours, those plans were thrown into disarray due to the college’s decision to move students off campus and to limit public gatherings amid concerns about the coronavirus. However, the Office of Admissions has adapted, adding a number of digital programs for admitted students to keep them informed.
According to McGann and Mandy Hart, associate dean of admission and coordinator of diversity outreach, the programs include expanded online chats with admissions officials, online financial aid appointments, postcard and phone outreach, as well as virtual hosting, wherein admitted students are paired with current students to talk to about their Amherst experience.
The Office of Admissions will also be using an app called ZeeMee, which will allow admitted students to connect with one another and with current students based on shared interests or identities. “We are doing all that we can to show prospective students what makes Amherst College a special community, and the biggest part of that is our people,” said McGann.
Hart also noted that the Office of Admissions is working on setting up additional virtual programs, particularly with respect to academics. Notably, they are “working to get admitted students in on some of our virtual classes, in the same way they may have sat in on classes during the Open House. We're also hoping to replicate our academic panels using Zoom,” Hart wrote in an email interview. Additionally, Hart expressed that the office would try to set-up Zoom meetings with first-generation students in particular, as well as partner with student organizations and resource centers to produce more programming for admitted students.
“The tools that [admitted students] would have traditionally relied on to weigh their options and find the right fit for their next four years are different now, and we're hoping that our slate of offerings might be helpful to these students as they navigate uncharted territory,” Hart said. “We are, first and foremost, concerned with their health and the health of their loved ones, and we care deeply about these students that we've gotten to know even if just through their applications. But, we also want to make sure they get the information they need about Amherst.”