The Colby College Office of Admissions and Financial Aid received a record high number of applicants for the Class of 2021, leading to a 16 percent acceptance rate, the lowest in school history. The College received 11,190 applications, a 14 percent surge from applications for the Class of 2020.
The College has aggressively pursued prospective students from across the country and abroad, taking steps to increase access to the application. In recent years, the College has dropped the application fee, removed the supplemental essay and become test optional. Since 2014, the number of applications received by the College has surged 117 percent.
Additionally, the College has subscribed to admissions programs such as Questbridge and the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success to increase the reach of Colby and attract qualified students from underprivileged families.
According to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, over 135 countries were represented in the application pool. In addition, the College saw a 338 percent increase in applications from Florida, a 235 percent increase from Texas, and a 139 percent increase from California. Massachusetts still remains the most represented state both on campus and among the application pool.
The acceptance rate has also dropped precipitously due to the rise in applications received. For the Class of 2017, the acceptance rate was approximately 26 percent. The total number of applications Colby received for the current senior class was 5,407. Since then, the acceptance rate has been 28 percent, 23 percent, and 19 percent for the Classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively.
In relation to peer institutions, admissions to Colby is becoming more selective. In recent years due to aggressive marketing campaigns and the transformation of the application process, Colby has become one of the most applied to colleges in the NESCAC. Tufts, a member of the NESCAC, received 21,101 applications for the Class of 2021. However, Tufts is the largest school in the conference and its current enrollment is above 10,000.
Notably, Colby’s acceptance rate is similar to some of the most selective schools in the country. Williams College, a NESCAC member and the top ranked liberal arts college by US News & World Report, received 8,593 applications and admitted 14.6 percent of those. The College looks to compete with other top-teir schools for more talented students. “Colby’s multidisciplinary approach, our focus on cutting-edge fields like computational biology and environmental humanities, and our partnerships with renowned institutions and our local community make the College a great fit for the most talented students from around the world,” Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid Matt Proto commented, in a College press release.
As the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid continues to take steps to attract top students to Colby, the student population of the College has changed over time and will certainly continue to change. Currently, only 20 percent of the student body are persons of color, over ten percent are first-generation college students, and over ten percent are international students. The applicant pool for the Class of 2021 was the most diverse and competitive in College history, according to the Admissions Office.