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Admissions ups standards as applications increase

By Milena Carrese
On October 17, 2012

Colleges across the nation are raising their admissions standards. With more students applying to college and a limited number of spots open, schools are forced to become more selective. Marist College is no exception.

According to a study conducted by CBS, approximately 20.4 million students are currently enrolled in college and that number is expected to rise to 23 million by 2020. This same study found that in 2010, 73 percent of colleges and universities experienced an increase in applications from the previous year.

In 2010, Marist received 9,547 applications for approximately 1,000 spots in the freshman class. This past year, Marist received 11,463 applications for the same number of spots. This is an increase of almost 2,000 applications in just two years.

Julio A. Torres Jr., senior assistant director of admissions, believes that the increase in applications is due to the hard work by members of the Marist community.

"Our increase in applications can be attributed to the wonderful work of our alumni, faculty, staff and students on campus and the successes they all have had as they move into other phases of their lives," he said. "Marist has become more diverse geographically and internationally and more and more students are aware of the Marist name."

Brian Loew, senior assistant director of admissions, says that regardless of the increase in applications Marist wants to remain the same size.

"There is an increase in applications," Loew said, "but we're not looking to increase the size of the school. This is what is creating the highly selective environment."

The rising number of applications with a static number of spots means that Marist must become more selective each year.

According to CBS, during 2011, the average university's acceptance rate was 65.5 percent. Marist's rate is well below this national average.

In 2008, Marist received 9,198 applications and accepted 3,450, making their acceptance rate 37.5 percent. In 2012, Marist received 11,463 applications and accepted 3,587, an acceptance rate of 31.3 percent.

Marist still accepted a similar number of students but from a larger pool of applicants, therefore decreasing their acceptance rate by approximately 6 percent. This acceptance rate places Marist in the top 5 percent of the most selective schools in the nation.

Loew says that the decreased acceptance rate is a good thing for the school.

"The reputation of Marist has grown to such a point where we're getting students from all over the country and all over the world, but we're not looking to change the culture of the school," he said. "We're looking to remain the small, liberal arts, private school that applicants fell in love with."

As schools become more selective, student profiles change. In 2012, the middle 50 percent of accepted students had a recalculated grade point average that fell between an 88 and a 93. In 2009, the average was between an 86 and a 91.

Michelle Stathers, undergraduate admission representative said that the middle 50 percent is merely a range, not something for applicants to stress over.

"The reason we give the middle 50 percent is to give prospective students an idea of what type of student we are looking for, but we really look at the student as a whole," she said. "The ranges allow us to look at many other things the student has to offer."

Marist doesn't judge students solely on the academic numbers they put up. Many more aspects of the student's academic career and extra-curricular activities are looked at.

"We look at core classes, rigorous course schedule, and the resume," Stathers said. "We want to see a well-rounded student that when we accept them, they will contribute to the community here."

Marist is also now test optional. This means that students are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores with their application.

"We had seen so many strong applications come through the process, and so many were held back by their test number," Stathers said. "We felt that over the years it was unfair to judge the students by their test score."

Many colleges are moving in this direction because they believe that the SAT or ACT score is not an accurate reflection of how a student would perform in the classroom.

"There are students who have great success in high school," Stathers said. "This could be reflected in their overall GPA or rigor of their coursework. But many felt that the test didn't reflect their potential as a student. Their admission is no longer riding on that one number."

Students applying to Marist do have the option to submit their test scores if they believe that they are a good reflection of themselves academically.

Marist is expanding their student pool geographically. The current freshman class has students from all over the United States and international students as well.

There are students enrolled from the Midwest, west coast, southern states, along with Hawaii and Alaska. Internationally, Marist represents over 15 countries including Jordan, China and Singapore.

As evident from the admissions statistics from the past couple of years, Marist is becoming more selective and diverse and is creating a greater outreach to communities beyond the traditional markets.

Loew describes the mindset of the counselors while reviewing applications.

"The admissions committee is majority Marist grads," he said. "From an alumni standpoint, we're very excited about the selectivity and it's a very challenging few months for us trying to make decisions. We want to keep up the culture of the Marist community while looking at the evolving academic and extra curricular competition among applicants."

The Marist admissions mission statement outlines the college's goals of enrolling a diverse group of men and women, enhancing the educational experience and accepting students who are eager to participate in the academic and social community.

The changes to the admissions process are allowing Marist to reach the goals that have been set for the college.

As the value of a college degree increases, colleges nationwide are facing the inevitable influx of applications and higher quality students. Colleges must now become more selective, and high school students must work harder than ever if they want to attend the college of their choice, whether it is Marist or another institution.

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