College admits 12 percent of applicants

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Twelve percent of applicants were offered admission to Swarthmore College’s Class of 2019. The college announced earlier this week that that it had accepted 950 of 7,817 applicants.

These numbers indicate a 5-percent decrease in admission rate from last year’s admissions cycle, which admitted 930 of 5,540 applicants to the Class of 2018.

The college released a statement on its website stating that it remains committed to various forms of diversity in selecting prospective members of the Class of 2019. The group of prospective students includes residents of six continents, 74 nations including Ireland, Azerbaijan, and Somalia, and all 50 U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Fifty-eight percent of the admitted students attended public high schools, exactly the same percentage as the admitted Class of 2018, and 21 percent are among the first generation in their family to attend college, up from 18 percent last year.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this group of students,” Vice President and Dean of Admissions Jim Bock ’90 said in a statement. He described the Class of 2019 as intellectually curious, collaborative, and driven to discover innovative solutions to global and local issues, and believes they are a testament to the college’s commitment to making a Swarthmore education accessible and affordable for all qualified students.

“We can’t wait to welcome them to our inspiring campus and introduce them to a wide range of opportunities for research, work, and fun,” Bock said.

Despite the 42-percent increase in the number of applications for the Class of 2019 as compared to last year, Director of Admissions J.T. Duck said the selection process this year was very similar to previous years. He said in an e-mail that Admissions continued to treat each application with care, evaluating each one through holistic and contextual lenses before being brought to committee for discussion. However, the number of applications did have an effect on the process as a whole.

“The sheer volume of applications demanded an extra level of selectivity, and that made committee discussions particularly tough this year,” Duck said. The spike in applications may have been partly caused by the removal of one of the essay questions from the application for this admissions cycle. When asked to discuss any possible changes to the admissions process in coming years, Duck said that it was too soon to point to any specific tweaks in the admissions process for 2020. It is possible that the updated version of the SAT being administered in the 2015-16 academic year, with its return to the 1600-point scale, will cause some changes for the admissions team.

Regarding Swarthmore’s growing presence on the national college scene and its increasing prominence on college ranking websites, such as its #3 ranking on the US News & World Report’s list of best liberal arts colleges and #3 ranking for overall undergraduate institutions in Forbes, Duck believes that the size and depth of this year’s applicant pool is a growing recognition and appreciation of the quality of education Swarthmore offers.

“If the increased size of this year’s applicant pool enhances any perceptions of Swarthmore, I hope it’s one of greater accessibility to the college from an ever-more diverse array of college applicants,” Duck said.

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