New student applications break record for largest applicant pool in single year

By Shira Kipnees II Senior Staff Writer

This year, F&M received the largest number of applications for admittance in a single year in the history of the College. 7,066 prospective students applied to the Class of 2019 — a 28 percent increase from last year, and a 25 percent increase from the College’s previous record for number of applications.

According to Dan Lugo, vice president for Admission and Financial Aid, this growth can be attributed to various factors, such as the work F&M does with regard to attracting prospective students, the expansion of outreach and recruiting skills in the past four years, and positive media attention garnered by the College, including an increase in F&M’s national rankings.

“Part of that improved recruiting is that we are communicating with a vast number of increased inquiries — or, as they are more commonly known — high school seniors, juniors, and sophomores,” Lugo said. “We currently have [For the Class of 2019] about 46,000 inquiries in our database. Three years ago, we only had 20,000, so we’ve more than doubled the number of high school seniors that we’re communicating with annually. So, if you talk to more folks about the great qualities of a place, more people are attracted.”

Lugo also noted that F&M has streamlined its application process through the Common Application: Questions from the red supplemental application were redistributed and embedded them within the main application, in keeping with new policies implemented by the Common Application, to make it appear shorter in the eyes of prospective students.

“I believe that that has had some effect in getting people to apply to F&M and not being turned off,” he said.

The College currently operates on a holistic admission process, meaning that all applications are read twice and go through a committee review process.

“While the increased number of applications means more work, it’s a great problem to have,” Lugo said. “But it’s definitely taxing our staff resources and our time, but we’re doing a good job and the team here has really stepped up. It’ll be a challenge to pick the new class through all these applications.”

Lugo explained his hope that the College can sustain this increase and level of success going into future admissions cycles.

“I believe that F&M will continue to see robust application numbers in the ballpark of what we’re seeing this year,” said Lugo. “Just to temper enthusiasm, it is highly unusual for Colleges to get a 28 percent increase in applications, so there might be a bit of a correction next year. However, I don’t believe that it will be anything dramatic. We are in a new neighborhood of competitiveness.”

Additionally, Lugo pointed out that application-readers have noticed a stronger quality of student in this year’s applicant pool; that is to say, a typical student who may have been accepted to the College in the past may be on the cusp this year, or even rejected outright.

“This is what selective schools want,” Lugo said. “They want their committee process to be tough. The tougher it gets, the better it is for the resulting output.”

This is Lugo’s fourth and final year at F&M, as he is leaving F&M to assume a position as vice president for College and Student Advancement at Colby College in Maine. This new office is a mixture of alumni relations, fundraising, and other details of advancement applied in a more creative way, merging experiential learning and post-graduate learning into the same division, Lugo explained.

Lugo has held the same role as vice president for Admission and Financial Aid since arriving at F&M, and has also been a member of the senior team of Dan Porterfield, president of the College. The search for his replacement is just beginning.

“I’ve had the real pleasure of helping expand all of our means of recruiting students from all over the country and all over the world,” Lugo said. “I think that the College has had a really strong experience over these past four years and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Senior Shira Kipnees is a staff writer. Her email is skipnees@fandm.edu.

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