2015 celebrates diversity
First-years in the College’s class of 2015, chosen from a record-breaking 5,175 applicants, comprise the strongest international class in College history. “I think that there are more countries represented than states,” Steve Thomas, director of admissions, said. “There aren’t a lot of schools that can say that.”
While the class of 2014 is the most diverse in terms of domestic diversity—almost 25 percent being students of color—the class of current first-years includes students from 42 countries, the most the College has ever seen. Coupled with what is “probably the third greatest student of color domestic diversity class,” the class of 2015 is “a very, very diverse class,” Thomas said.
In order to ensure diversity in every class, the College relies on more than just sheer number of applicants. “We have people whose primary responsibility it is to coordinate the recruitment of students of color,” Thomas said. The Students of Color Working Group, which Thomas chairs, oversees this recruitment plan.
“We make sure that we recruit in lots of diverse places to ensure a diverse population,” Thomas said. The group also sponsors several programs including Experience Colby, which brings students of color to campus for an overnight visit. According to Thomas, “It’s important to get other students and faculty involved, so that’s really what this group was charged with and what we do.” An Experience Colby event will be held Oct. 15-17 with over 50 prospective students staying overnight, visiting classes and partaking in various activities.
The large number of international applicants—almost 1,100 last year—is largely due to the Davis United World Scholars Program. Colby is one of the five original participating colleges in the scholarship program, started by philanthropists Gale and Shelby M.C. Davis. Since 2000, the gift has provided need-based scholarships to graduates of any of the United World Colleges.
“This was a pretty phenomenal gift because at the time it met the full need of any student who enrolled from any of those colleges with no limit on the number of students,” Thomas said. “Within four years, we had over 100 of these students enrolled at Colby through this program.”
Because there are now 91 institutions participating in the Davis Scholars program, funding for Colby has decreased to $20,000 of need-based aid for an unlimited number of United World College alumni. Not only does the program currently aid about 70 Colby students, but it also allows for more aggressive international recruiting. “Going to [United World Colleges] also allowed us to go to other schools that were in the same countries, so our international recruiting became more comprehensive and more sophisticated,” Thomas said.
Because of the Davis Scholars program and the dedication groups like the Students of Color Working Group, diversity on campus has been steadily increasing throughout the years. “Our application numbers for students of color and international students have gone up and the student of color numbers have gone up disproportionately to the general increase in the pool. They’ve been high and that’s probably because we pay particular attention to that,” Thomas said.
The record diversity in the current classes of first-years and sophomores is a reflection of the years of dedication to bringing international students and students of color to campus. Thomas expects the Class of 2016 to be just as varied. “Because we are more diverse, we are more attractive to a student who wants a diverse community.”