The Colgate Scene ON-LINE

Applications for the Colgate Class of 2002 are arriving daily, including 225 received in November from Early Decision — Option I candidates, who have declared Colgate to be their "first choice" college. That figure represents a slight increase over last year’s total of 217 in the first round of ED. As I write these thoughts, our admission staff is completing its review of ED candidates, and decision letters will be mailed on December 12. Of those 225, we project about 115 will be admitted.

The deadline for Early Decision — Option II is January 15 — the same as our regular deadline. A regular admission candidate also may convert to Early Decision status any time prior to March 1. Last year another 228 applied through ED-Option II, bringing the total to 445. We are optimistic about meeting that total.

Every Early Decision candidate is eager to attend Colgate, but another 5,500 regular decision candidates will also have Colgate high on their list. Our goal is to yield the most talented class we can from the full complement of applicants. That means disappointing some students even though they may have their heart set on attending Colgate. If not admitted, Early Decision candidates may be deferred for reconsideration in the regular review, but we will deny admission in the ED cycle if a student is not competitive.

While candidates for the Class of 2002 put the final touches on their applications, I thought I would recap some of the recent trends in admissions, including the impressive academic ability and the wealth of extracurricular talents evident in our applicant pool — thus providing some indication of the difficult choices facing the admission committee.

In recent years Colgate has received about 6,000 applications annually, including a record year in 1996 of more than 6,800, for a class of about 725 students; that means at least eight candidates for every spot in the class. In our review of academic credentials, we consider student achievement in high school, recommendations from teachers and counselors and test scores. Not all of this information is quantifiable in a manner conducive to quick assessment of the "odds" for admission. As a teaching-oriented institution, Colgate believes teacher input is invaluable in our admission process. A student’s academic record, including courses taken and grades earned, is the single best predictor of performance at Colgate. Since high schools vary greatly, however, test scores do offer a national scaled comparison. We are equally as interested in results of the SAT-II Subject exams as in the standard Verbal and Math results; in the alternative ACT exam (American College Test) students also show subject-oriented results. Students admitted last year averaged 1320 on the SAT; the middle 50 percent of scores fell between 1260 and 1400 with 25 percent scoring above that range, and 25 percent below. On the ACT the range was 27–30. Of admitted students, 89 percent ranked in the top fifth of their classes.

Extracurricular talents are evident across the entire admitted group. Generally speaking, the stronger the academic talent, the more likely the student has achieved excellence outside the classroom as well. That is the type of student attracted to Colgate. Student artists, musicians, athletes, leaders, journalists, etc. abound in our applicant pool, as well as at all levels of the admitted student group. The typical Colgate applicant has been very busy! Our academic review comes first; personal qualities and talents help us differentiate among students with similarly strong academic talents. Students in the lower academic ranges of the admit group generally have some exceptional individual accomplishments, qualities or experiences that would enrich Colgate.

Additional information that documents a distinct talent, or speaks to the whole student is welcome. For example, alumni letters are most helpful when the writer is fully acquainted with a student’s academic record as well as personal achievements. Alumni can better position a student’s potential contribution, or advise a student about his or her competitiveness, if all the information is on the table.

When confronted with the realities of the admission process, many people say to me, "I wouldn’t want your job!" In truth, it is extremely rewarding to help shape the future of Colgate by encouraging and evaluating such talented young people. The difficult choices involved, and even much of the disappointment incurred by some along the way, indicate the quality of the Colgate experience and of the students drawn to this community.

Mary F. Hill '83
Dean of Admission