New Class, New Momentum

stephanie Balmer

by Stephanie Balmer, vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications and dean of admissions

This incoming class is notable for numerous reasons. We received 5,827 applications—or nine applications for every place in the class. With an admit rate of 44.4 percent and a yield rate of 24.2 percent, we welcomed 626 first-years — including 12 students arriving following a gap year. In addition, 16 transfer students, including six students from two of our community-college partner institutions, arrived this academic year. Moreover, the academic profile and diversity of this class are impressive:

  • For those submitting standardized test scores (approximately 69 percent of the class, as Dickinson has had a test-optional policy since 1996), the average SAT Critical Reading and Math score is 1288 (includes converted ACT scores). Of those reporting class rank (27 percent of the class), 46 percent graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class.
  • There are 36 states, including Washington, D.C., and 18 countries, including the U.S., represented in the class.
  • Public-school students (60 percent) outnumber private-school students (40 percent).
  • Domestic students from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds constitute 15 percent of the class, international students represent 8 percent and alumni legacies 8.5 percent.
  • Recruited athletes constitute 24 percent of the class. Recruited squash players in the class of 2017 will likely play on our new varsity men’s and women’s squash teams in 2014–15, which will bring our varsity sport count to 25.
  • Fifty-five percent of the first-year class has been awarded need-based financial aid, totaling more than $10 million dollars.

Not surprisingly, incoming students have strong backgrounds in community service and civic involvement and were attracted to Dickinson for our deep commitment to sustainability and global study, among other academic strengths.

Although other recent classes have used social media to research and select a college, the class of 2017 has used this platform — whether it was Facebook, Twitter or Instagram — with regularity and learned much more about the college (and one another) prior to their August arrival. And it is in large part due to the prowess of our prospective and current students, parents, faculty, alumni and donors that we are developing a brand refresh that will result in a new college Web site, an integrated admissions campaign and an expanded social-media presence. You can expect a new sitewide architecture, improved navigation and a social-media wall that more prominently displays and streamlines our social-media feeds.

The admissions campaign was launched this fall, and the new Web site will go live in early 2014. Work to date has involved the entire college community — including the Web Advisory Committee, composed of students, faculty and staff. The committee has been researching and evaluating best practices and advising our agency of record, 160over90, a Philadelphia-based firm with extensive experience in higher-education and consumer client work. 160over90 has developed campaigns for Cornell University, the University of Southern California–Los Angeles, the University of Notre Dame and Loyola University–Maryland. The agency’s authentic and powerful representation of these institutions is smart and just what Dickinson deserves. It is vital that we leverage the college’s strengths through a refreshed narrative and design and convey the urgency of why a Dickinson education matters. The new Web site and admissions campaign will advance the changes we have made in the past 18 months with the introduction of a new graphic identity and a refreshed Dickinson Magazine.

The goals developed by our on-campus steering committee will be more than met in our work with 160over90. The agency’s poignant stories and contemporary design will not only refresh the Dickinson brand and narrative but also elevate the college’s status and stature among the most respected and selective liberal-arts colleges as well as firmly establish the tangible and intangible qualities of the Dickinson experience and the long-term value it provides. These are bold goals, and our college is most deserving. We look forward to hearing from you about these enhancements in the months to come.

Published Oct. 28, 2013