Admissions Works through Recession
Despite rough economic times, the College has not seen a significant downturn in application numbers.
The total effects of the downturn are still unknown, however, because as the deadline for regular decision applications is not until January 1. Using data from early decision applicants and regular decision applications that have already submitted, the number of applicants this year compared to last year "indicates that we should come in at or around last year's total," Director of Admissions Steve Thomas said.
The College has received about 10 percent fewer applications than it had at this point last year. Similar declines in applications have also occurred at many of Colby's peer schools, including Amherst, Williams and Bates. It still remains unknown whether this is directly a result of the economy or rather that there are simply fewer high school seniors than in recent years in the United States.
While the economic recession has not considerably altered the number of applicants thus far, there has been a slight shift in the demographic of applicants. Thomas notes the change is an increase by "a percentage point or two of applicants who live closer to Colby and not from farther away." This suggests that students are placing a heavier weight on travel cost than the expense of college itself when applying. By the application deadline, the College will be able to discern whether this proves true.
In light of the recession, applicants' decisions to apply and to enroll at the College may be partially based on financial aid. "Colby's no-loan policy receives much thoughtful praise and makes a difference, I think, in many applicants' decisions," Thomas said. The continuation of the grants policy helps reinforce the positive perception of the College for parents concerned about how the downturn of the economy has affected Colby. It also lifts the burden of worry about piling up student loans off of applicants' shoulders.
Thomas also points out that "the dollar's plunge in overseas currency values makes us a less expensive alternative to many international students. 'Colby's measurable niche in the international student market helps us in this regard." If this prediction proves accurate, the College may reach its goal of embracing diversity more so than it currently does.
The economic recession should not impact the admissions decisions themselves, and as far as one can tell, the College's applicant pool will not be adversely affected by the current economic situation, according to Thomas.