Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

College acceptance rate drops to lowest in school history

There are 926 new first-time students that make up this year’s incoming class. Flora Li/Beacon Staff

The college’s acceptance rate dropped for the fourth year in a row to about 33 percent as a result of increased applications, a college official said. 

“I’m pleased to report that the acceptance rate is the lowest it has ever been in our history,” President M. Lee Pelton said during a faculty meeting. 

Vice President for Enrollment Management Ruthanne Madsen said the acceptance rate dropped because of a 19-percent increase in applications for this year—it rose from 12,900 in the fall 2017 application season to 15,352 in the fall 2018 application season. 

This increase follows a 24-percent increase during the fall 2017 application season. 

“As word of mouth goes out and our marketing message gets bigger and better, it really does help to increase the number of applications that we see,” Madsen said.

Madsen said the upward trend stemmed from a policy change in 2018 that allows students to apply test-optional. Instead of submitting standardized test scores, students have the option to submit a supplemental piece of work, such as a creative project or writing supplement. 

“That took down a lot of barriers for students who were looking at Emerson. They had the high school GPA, but they didn’t have the test scores,” Madsen said. 

Test-optional applications increased from about 8 percent to 17 percent over the past year. 

There are 926 new first-time students that make up this year’s incoming class.

Of the first-time new students, 5 percent are of two or more races, Madsen said, which is a 2-percent increase from the class of 2022. In fall 2018,  14 percent of the incoming class was Hispanic, and this year the number is 11 percent.

The number of black and African-American students in the incoming class is greater than in years past. The class of 2023 has 40 coming in, compared to 34 in 2018 and 29 in 2017. 

Students in the incoming class come from 30 countries, which is five more than last year.

“That has to do with the fact that we have partnerships with amazing institutions like Paris College of Art, Blanquerna in Barcelona, Spain, and Franklin University in Switzerland,” Madsen  said. “We are getting the message out all over the globe, which is exactly what we want to do.”

The majority of international students—about 73 percent—are from China.

“We do not recruit in China,” Pelton said during the faculty meeting. “This has happened organically on its own.” 

For the second year in a row, most students in the incoming class are California residents.

“A lot of smaller, higher-ed institutions in New England are hurting for enrollment, and that is because they were just pulling from the [New England] region,” Madsen said. “We have a different strategy, and it has been in place over the past five, six years, and that is to ensure we are not a regional campus.”

The college’s acceptance yield—the percentage of students accepted that enroll—is about 19 percent, which is similar to years past, Madsen said.

Madsen said the low yield is due to how easy it is for students to apply to multiple schools.

“It’s very easy for students to apply to various schools with the Common Applications, but when they get admitted they have to make their decision,” she said. “If someone is admitted and they come to our campus, we want to do everything we can to ensure they see themselves here.”

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