Record High: College Logs More than 5,000 Applications for Class of 2019

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UPDATED Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Office of Admission gave out hundreds of slices of cake in the Campus Center this week to celebrate a new college milestone: 5,004 applications received for the Class of 2019.

The total surpasses the record high number of applications reported last month.

The rise in applications this year “shows strong interest in Smith and a validation that there is still strong interest in women’s colleges,” said Debra Shaver, dean of admission.

Shaver credited Smith’s stellar reputation for academics and alumnae achievement as the reason for the historically large pool of applicants this year.

“While our office is constantly improving our outreach and communications strategies, the best marketing we could ask for is the overall reputation of the college,” Shaver said.


Published February 2, 2015

A record number of students have applied to be part of Smith’s Class of 2019, including more students of color and those who’ve selected the college as their first choice through early decision.

The college has received close to 5,000 applications—up by more than 500 over last year, according to Vice President for Enrollment Audrey Smith.

The total represents a 12 percent increase in overall applications—a significant rise at a time when studies show the nation’s college-age population is shrinking, especially in the Northeast, Smith noted.

Early-decision applications are up by 21 percent over last year to 419. The college also saw a 16 percent increase in applications from U.S. students compared to last year; a 17 percent increase from U.S. students of color; and a 2 percent increase from international students.

Smith said the college’s recent snow day was a blessing in disguise for admission staff, who are in the process of reading through this year’s highest-ever number of applications and could do so from their homes that day.

Here’s what else Smith had to say about this year’s positive admission picture.

What trends do you see in this year’s application numbers?

Smith: “This is the eighth year in a row we’ve seen record applications, and it is even more impressive in an environment where there are fewer students graduating from high school. We’re not alone in this—other colleges are also seeing an increase in applications. Still, a 12 percent rise is significant. That’s the single largest one-year increase in applications I’ve seen in the 15 years I’ve been at Smith.”

What are some of the reasons for that increase?

Smith: “Several factors are working together to create this trend. First and foremost, there are a lot of exciting things happening at Smith, and that is more apparent to the world. We know that a growing number of students are applying to more colleges because college admission is increasingly competitive and the financial picture is so complex. So some of our peer schools have seen a rise in applications, as well.”

Is the increase in applications to Smith also a result of new recruitment strategies?

Smith: “Yes. We have made an investment in getting the word out about Smith through social media and a variety of other platforms. We know that our summer and fall individual visits to campus were up and our Fall Preview programs for prospective students were also at capacity. A fun thing we started last year is sending admitted students a card that reads “I’m a New Smithie” and encouraging them to post photos on social media. It gives our admitted students a chance to share their excitement about being at Smith, and it adds authentic student voices to our recruitment. We’ve also done a careful analysis of our recruitment travel and are once again bringing high school guidance counselors to campus. Our alumnae admission volunteers are also a critical part of the recruitment effort, and they did an exceptional job this year. The idea of bringing Smith to the world and bringing the world to Smith—we’re doing that.”

What message do you see in the rise in students applying early decision?

Smith: “That’s a very positive trend. It means more students who get to know Smith are making the college their first choice. A subset of those early-decision applicants are recruited athletes. Smith coaches are critically important partners in the admission process. They are committed to our Division III, liberal arts mission to recruit talented student athletes. So their good work is a piece of what we’re seeing. We also have new early-decision applicants through our Posse Foundation partnership targeted to students who want to major in science, technology, engineering and math. Smith’s first Posse arrives on campus this fall.”

Smith has been ranked among the most economically diverse colleges in the nation. Could our generous financial aid also be a reason for the rise in applications?

Smith: “That is something we will learn more about as we go through the admission process. The financial aid application deadline occurs later this month. It’s a good question and a good theory. We know we are seeing more applications from New York and California and from students of color. We’re going to be working very hard to earn the enrollment of all of our admitted students by talking about the exciting things Smith has to offer. We have a great story to tell.”

What do this year’s applications say about the Class of 2019?

Smith: “We have very high hopes for the class, though it’s too soon to draw a clear profile. We’ve just begun reading through those 5,000 applications. We do know that our early-decision pool is not only larger, but also stronger this year. That’s a group of very talented individuals, and it bodes well for the Class of 2019. Over the last decade our overall applicant pool has become much more racially diverse, more international and academically stronger.”