Admissions, Retention, and Financial Aid Committee
Minutes of the 15 February 2006 Meeting
Members Present : Steve Amundson, Bill Green, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Katie Hellen, Maria Kelly, Michael Kyle, Jerry Pope, Jean Porterfield, Steve Reece, Ariel Strichartz
1. Reece called the meeting to order, and the minutes from 14 Dec 2005 were discussed and approved.2. Kyle updated the group on the status of applications for the class of 2010. He reviewed some of the statistics and facts shared in a previous email to faculty (excerpt below).
We have seen a tremendous increase in applications to St. Olaf this year. Early Decision applications were up 26%, Early Action applications were up 17%, and Regular Decision applications to date are running ahead of where we finished last year. All told, the increase is about 15% over last year. We remain cautiously optimistic that this year's class will exceed our projections and goals in a variety of important measures. This large applicant pool also means we must make very difficult decisions each day about the size and composition of the first year class. While we are grateful for this expanded student interest in St. Olaf, the large increase means we cannot accommodate all students who want to be at St. Olaf and have the academic and personal credentials that otherwise qualify them for admission.
Kyle also shared some thoughts about potential reasons for such a positive increase in applications in multiple categories (although the actual roles of these factors in the observed increase cannot of course be concluded). Many schools, including many ACM schools, are seeing similar increases in their applications this year. Milyon Trulove (Admissions) assessed method of first inquiry for the applicant pool and found that campus visits were up about 50%, showing how important the campus visit is for St. Olaf recruitment. The new web page and an easier application process could be factors as well.
Kyle reminded us that the large number of Early Decision and Early Action admitted students puts even more pressure on making good (and sometimes difficult) admission decisions for the Regular Decision group based on a variety of factors like diversity, tuition, academics, etc.3. Discussion of the application and admission process ensued.
Amundson asked how the decision is made on how many students to admit; Kyle explained that there is modeling software that helps the staff with their numerical decisions.
Amundson asked if applications are still being accepted even though the Feb 1 2006 deadline for Regular Decision had passed; Kyle answered that it is possible, but that adhering to the deadlines plays a role in admissions decisions.
Pope pointed out that Admissions is in a position to shape the incoming class rather than simply fill it.
Green asked about our overlap with other schools, and about the role of financial aid. Kyle responded that our top five overlaps are still University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Madison, St. Thomas, Carleton, and Gustavus. Less than 20% of our students are full-pay, then a portion have merit-based and/or music scholarships, then most of the rest receive need-based aid. One effect of this is that some qualified students do not matriculate here at St. Olaf because they do not receive merit-based aid.
Strichartz inquired about the first-inquiry data; is the trend different for multicultural students than for the general pool? Kyle responded that the SSS and Upward Bound programs differentially contributed to the increase in multicultural student applications, and Pope added that focusing on completing applications by the deadlines increased the pool of multicultural students.
There was continued discussion of the increasing population of multicultural students. Kyle pointed out that increasing the numbers of multicultural students at a sustainable rate is important, because students are hopefully here for all four years and appropriate student support must be provided and maintained. Also, multicultural status is based on what students choose to report in their application.
4. Where are we now in the admissions process for the Class of 2010? Kyle reported that Early Decision and Early Action letters have been mailed, and Regular Decision letters will go out on March 1 2006. The next big steps involve financial aid decisions and monitoring the deposits (the deposit deadline is May 1 2006). Pope explained that much of the Admissions staff time is devoted to talking with denied and deferred students, explaining the basis of the decision.
5. Admissions Events. Pope reported that the January Junior Day was on Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and 178 students (not including parents) attended. More than 270 students were expected for the upcoming Spring Open House on April 8 2006. For Scholars’ Day (March 4 2006), about 150 students were invited and about 100 were expected to attend. The current Regents’ Scholars will house the attendees, and Pope informed us that the faculty interviews are a very important part of the students’ Scholars’ Day experience. Admissions plans to improve the follow-up process with faculty on the status of the students that they interviewed.
6. Pope introduced the issue of “undocumented students” - those students without citizenship. Currently St. Olaf has no policy regarding admission of these students, and it might be beneficial in the future to have such a policy. Pope proposed that this be the topic of a single-issue future meeting. Strichartz suggested that people from the Northfield community be involved in this discussion, as there are people working with undocumented students in the school systems to help prepare them for college.
7. Next meeting was set for March 15 2006 at 3:30 pm.
8. Reece wondered why the class size was down this year; Kyle responded that keeping some first-year courses small (below 20 students) and reducing the number of triple rooms were factors, and that having more than 3000 total students puts St. Olaf in a different comparison group.
The meeting was adjourned.