Admissions, Retention, and Financial Aid Committee
Minutes of the February 14, 2007 ARFAC Meeting
Faculty Lounge BC 145a, 3:10 - 4:20 p.m.
Attendance : Steven Amundson (chair), Jean Porterfield, Ariel Strichartz, Robert Hauck, Rafael Martin Freedman-Gurspan, Michelle Vigen, Michael Kyle, Jill Lynch (Director of Admissions)
Absent : Joseph McClanahan, Bill Green, Kathy Ruby
Guest : Luke Anderson (Enrollment Information Manager & Data Analyst)
- Approval of last meetings minutes
Meeting began at 3:10 pm. Amundson asked for the approval of minutes from the previous meeting. Only friendly amendments (“academic divisions meet twice a year”), all other materials approved for public posting. The minutes were approved.
- Update on the status of admissions
Jerry Pope resigned two weeks ago. Jill Lynch has been appointed the interim Director of Admissions. Kyle assure us that there would be no adverse impact to admissions at this point, due to the change. Lynch has 8 years of admissions experience. Kyle also introduced Luke Anderson, admissions data analyst, who would help with presenting the admissions report.
Admissions is having a good season, receiving more than 1,000 applications this year than two years ago. There are more and better students applying overall. The college is being shaped by the group who is applying. For example, the applicant pool is the most geographically diverse in 25 years, with only 50-51% from Minnesota, a drop of 5-6%. There is more strength, depth, and breadth in the applicant pool.
Update on dates and deadlines: Early Decision acceptance letters have been issued. Saint Olaf has received deposits on 117 of the 118 accepted. Early Action decisions were mailed on February 1. There were approximately 1,700 accepted. The first wave of Regular Decisions is going on February 15 (400 accepted), and another wave about a week later. There were approximately 4,000 total applications, 2,933 domestic.
Academic Ranking: Overall, with regard to those admitted, academic ranking as improved. Example: Only 15% of admitted females were in the bottom two academic ranks. The majority of the increase in the highest ranking (5) is from out-of-state applicants.
Anderson presented three handouts regarding current admissions numbers.
#1 “Multi-Year Profile”, which discusses the results, characteristics, academics, and test scores statistics for the admitted Early Action students. The committee discussed the decrease in admittance rate overall and for those from in-state. Anderson also pointed out the increase in the % of minority, class ranking, and average ACT and SAT scores. Kyle commented that Saint Olaf is competing with both price and selectivity. This might cause yield to drop slightly this year as the admitted students are also applying to other highly selective schools and schools that might cost less. Overall, however, the statistics of the admitted have increased. Vigen asked how much Early Action makes up of the total accepted; Anderson responded that around 85% of their admitted pool is composed of Early Action applicants.
#2 “Application Growth by U.S. State – Full Year 2005-2007”, which displays the growth of applications by percentage by state. The greatest significant increase was in Massachusetts, California, and Illinois. The committee discussed how the statistics were displayed. Hauck brought up the question of admissions in the northwest. Admissions now is able to target certain areas with their recruiting resources; it would be a matter of making that region a priority for recruitment. The committee also discussed the use of scholarships at various price junctions. Kyle also reported that admissions is erring on the side of our aspirational group, as if we are leaving our peer group. Hauck responded that such a perspective makes recruiting very easy. Kyle also reported that Saint Olaf does support geographical diversity, but cannot be rightly accused of embracing a “national tact”. Five of our most “popular” states are still from the Midwest.
#3 “Shifts in Overlap Institutions: 8 Key Subgroups, 2006-2007”, which displays statistics on the applicant pool and admitted pool with regards to other institutions those students were considering. This report helps us look at the competition and where our applications are coming from. Saint Olaf wants to see growth in areas with peer and aspirational groups, and decline where we want to move from. The report shows that this is happening; the applicant pool increased by 500+ applications, and we gained 130 more with an unnamed institution from our aspirational group and only 70 more with an unnamed institution from our peer group. Kyle reported that with a much stronger admit pool, those admitted have more choices and opportunities with selective universities.
Porterfield asked about the projected yield rate, if it will shift. Kyle explained that it can be difficult to determine, but that he anticipates that yield will go down, that it would be hard to see how yield could hold. He expects a drop in 2-2.25%. Anderson and Kyle both commented to the strong waitlist that exists in the case of a large drop in yield. Kyle also spoke to the concern of over-enrolling, and how they are working on not assessing yield by anecdotal evidence.
Kyle reported that all Minnesota private colleges are up in applications, listing some colleges specifically. Hauck asked about transfer student numbers, which Kyle estimated at 20-25 offers.
Kyle also discussed the scenario if Saint Olaf yields do stay high and we blow past our target enrolled. At that point, Saint Olaf would have to accept its new admissions situation (positive), and change its admissions strategy.
Luke also reported that the acceptance rate this year was between 53-54%. Kyle supported this report by stating that this growth in admissions and success recruitment-wise was legitimate growth. Saint Olaf has not changed its admissions in any significant way (requiring the same test scores and other reporting), underscoring the validity of the increase in applications.
Amundson posed a question about racial and financial diversity. Kyle responded that both multicultural and support service student numbers were up. They are also growing stronger academically. Socioeconomic diversity is difficult because it involves the issue of need-sensitive strategy that is based on the perception that we have to be able to extend financial aid to those accepted. Additionally, those that can pay more have more options overall, which could cause yield to drop.
(This led into a conversation about merit-based aid, which I am designating as a separate issue.)
- Discussion on Merit-based aid
Hauck asked if the administration was considering the Precipice model the possibility of getting away from academic scholarships. Kyle responded that he knows the President Anderson does recognize an ethical problem with giving to those that have when other need. Hauck also mentioned that there were issues with athletics and who receives scholarships. Kyle did assure the committee that Saint Olaf’s commitment to meeting need has not changed. Strichartz mentioned that only need-based scholarships create the different profile and diversity. Kyle pointed out that it becomes a question of looking at both the excellent students with need-based aid versus the excellent students with only merit-based aid. He mentioned the possibility of placing a cap on merit-based scholarship amounts to help supplement and provide for more for need-based aid.
- General comments
Amundson said he is observing more flexibility within recruitment and admissions, more success and an increase in ranking due to the increase in ACT and other academic statistics with regard to those accepted. Kyle said that in the future, Saint Olaf might not need such a large application pool. At some point in the future, if application numbers continue to increase, admissions can begin allocating recruitment resources to other areas than generating applications. Amundson then posed the possibility of analyzing the incoming majors and even targeting departments. Luke mentioned that they had considered tracking through the Student Information System and the admissions RecruitmentPlus system. Barriers would include tracking the changing majors, students coming in un-declared and undecided, etc.
- Plans for next meeting, date and time to be disclosed at a later time.
Amundson proposed looking more into department recruiting. At the next meeting, admissions will provide another update and the committee will continue a discussion of anticipating the number of students possibly entering the different academic department. The meeting was adjourned at 4:20pm.
Minutes respectfully submitted,