A Season of Returns
by Stephanie Balmer, Vice President for Enrollment and Communications and Dean of Admissions
June 29, 2010
Spring at Dickinson was gorgeous—the campus colors were vivid and helped create a highly desirable “curb appeal” for admitted students and their parents arriving on campus and high-school juniors and parents beginning their college visits. Campus visits were at a high, and the beauty of the campus coupled with the vibrancy and friendliness of our community made memorable impressions on our guests. Our season of returns was under way as the size and composition of the first-year class, the outcomes of our graduating seniors and young alumni and the dynamic postseason performances of our spring athletic teams fulfilled their promise.
Our integrated messaging platform, including the college’s new Web site and virtual tour, social media and iTunes University, successfully extended our reach—helping us to yield more applications than last year’s 5,000. We will enroll a class that we expect, at this point, will exceed our budgeted goal of 600 first-year students. The strength of our academic program and a useful education in the liberal-arts tradition, coupled with the distinctiveness of our global and sustainability positioning and the strength of our alumni network, have assured our new families of the value in a Dickinson education.
The college’s strong financial position also has signaled that our institutional health is strong in this challenging economic climate. This has contributed to our positioning as a confident institution with smart, strategic leadership. Remarkable measurements of the class of 2014 include the increase over last year in our domestic students of color and international students, comprising nearly 25 percent of the enrolled class to date. In addition, we have rebuilt lost applicant market share in our six primary markets while gaining increases in our emerging out-of-region markets. To date, academic quality, as measured by the SAT, is even with last year. Females comprise 54 percent, and males comprise 46 percent of the class. Alumni legacies also constitute a larger percentage of the class than last year.
The success of our athletics teams in 2009-10, as measured by five nationally ranked teams in the fall and four sports entering postseason play this spring, also heightened Dickinson’s presence in the market. As a result, we have a sizeable increase in recruited athletes in the class of 2014.
Despite these healthy indices, the economic climate has made it challenging for us to project financial aid for returning and new students. Families perceive their resources to finance a college education to be less robust than last year, given their reliance on savings—due to job loss, declines in income and net worth, and an inability to borrow because of reduced home values.
As expected, these economic shifts translated into lower adjusted gross incomes and increased financial need for our incoming and returning families. In addition, there is a move in our peer group to increase no-need aid to families ineligible for need-based financial aid to assist with the cost of attending a private liberal-arts college. It is critical that we continue to plan for shifts in the economy so a Dickinson education can remain affordable for all students.
The remarkable work of our faculty, students and alumni has been central to the Dickinson narrative. The accomplishments of our graduating seniors, as measured by their graduate/professional school acceptances and job offers, the careers enjoyed by our alumni, the internships and grants earned by our students, and the grants and honors received by our faculty have been widely admired. You can see evidence of these accomplishments in subsequent pages of this magazine and on the college Web site.
All of these remarkable outcomes have resulted in an extraordinary first-year class, a graduating senior class with limitless opportunities and athletic teams that continue to strengthen our position in the Centennial Conference and Division III. May Dickinson continue to enjoy highly talented students and faculty, smart and strategic leadership and strong financial health—a confident and assertive profile that has yielded a strong season of returns for our college.