Incoming ED class smaller, more diverse

The Office of Admissions has notified accepted students for the class of 2016 who applied Early Decision.

According to Julie Kerich ’81, director of admissions, around 310 students were accepted during either the first or second round of Early Decision. The students from Early Decision I were notified by Dec. 15, and students from Early Decision II were notified by Feb. 15.

“All signs point to a really good class,” Kerich said. “They are a smart group.”

Kerich believe a unique characteristic of the Early Decision group for the class of 2016 is diversity not just of race, but also of geographic location, religion, and socioeconomic background.

“You would never have seen an Early Decision class this diverse a decade ago,” Kerich said.

Another unique addition to the class of 2016 is the new Posse Foundation STEM in Miami.

“We went down to Miami in December to select ten students for our Miami STEM Posse,” Kerich said. “The selection process was very difficult, as all of the students we met were amazing. The students who are in the Miami STEM Posse are wicked smart.”

The students accepted Early Decision will make up 53 percent of the class of 2016. This is smaller compared to the class of 2015 of which 56 percent of students applied Early Decision. According to Kerich, the office of admissions is slowly and intentionally decreasing the amount of students who apply through Early Decision in order to make the College more socioeconomically diverse.

“With the direction of the College, we want our classes to be more socioeconomically diverse,” Kerich said. “Many students from underrepresented groups are hesitant to apply Early Decision. To be a truly socioeconomically diverse campus, we need to even the playing field and rely less on Early Decision to build our classes.”

Kerich emphasized that financial aid is packaged the exact same way for students applying regular or early decision, but some students cannot decided on a college without seeing multiple financial options.

“Students from different socioeconomic backgrounds are hesitant to lock into a college after only seeing one financial aid package,” Kerich said. “This includes first-generation college students who are unfamiliar with how F&M or similar colleges package, as well as students who qualify for partial aid with a need to see the financial aid packages from other colleges before committing to their first-choice college.”

However, to combat the financial disadvantage that may affect students for Early Decision, the office of financial aid offers an early estimate so a family can have an idea about what their financial aid package might look like.

“A student should never be at a disadvantage for Early Decision because of financial aid,” Kerich said. “Early Decision students are packaged the same way, and that has been the policy of the College for years.”

She also noted the importance of giving high school students enough time to decide where they want to apply as a reason for decreasing the amount of students accepted Early Decision.

“To be sensitive to the maturity level of many high school students, less reliance on Early Decision is better,” Kerich said. “It is hard for some students to make such an important decision early.”

Now the office of admission is working with the regular decision applicants, where they are also hoping to achieve diversity.

“We are reading applications and accepting students with unique talents from all over the world,” Kerich said.

As the regular decision process starts, Kerich emphasizes the importance of the role of the current F&M students.

“Of all the students we say, ‘Yes, we want you,’ we want the best of them to come to us,” Kerich said. “To have our current students be positive about the College when they see tours, meet prospective students on our campus, or when they are back in their home towns is the best thing they can do. Our current students are the best advocates of the College.”

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