College admits over 200 students for Early Decision Rounds I and II to fill Class of 2024

"… Colby’s acceptance rate is once again projected to fall for the Class of 2024 if the current trend of growing application numbers continues. Indeed, last year the Class of 2023 had an overall acceptance rate of 9.6% , while the Class of 2022’s was 13% and the Class of 2021’s was a distant 16%.

Speaking of this trend, Proto remarked that ‘the demand for a Colby education continues to increase even at a time when many private liberal arts colleges are seeing a decrease in their applicant pools. This year we received more than 13,900 applications for approximately 550 spaces in the first-year class. The size, depth, and composition of our applicant pool will continue to support our admissions efforts to identify, select, and enroll the most talented students from all backgrounds.’" …

Colby is so clearly gaming their admissions statistics that it puts me off. It’s a great school, but I refuse to believe that it is more selective than the other NESCACs, or many, many other schools that are commonly regarded as “better”.

So basically, if you are unhooked and want to go to Colby, you better apply ED. That’s becoming the norm at a lot of highly competitive schools these days.

Boy, I just love ED. Let’s go for ED 3 next year, everyone!


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Colby has done A LOT since David Greene got there. It is not the school it was a decade ago. The affordability initiatives have made a huge difference; they are out in front on this. So the interest isn’t surprising to me. It’s not “gaming”. Most schools have realized that the key to their survival and relevance is to have a national presence, not a regional one, and Colby is doing this.

Most LACs fill close to half the class in ED, so that aligns them with their peers. If you are hooked (i.e., recruited), you also have to go ED. And while I personally dislike the idea of kids having pick a favorite and to apply ED, remember that all the kids who are accepted ED at any school are out of the RD pool. It cuts both ways.

Colby is a fine school that has figured it out - how to provide a quality education, how to compete, how to market themselves effectively, all to generate more applicants to choose from to pick the class of students they would like and continue to rise in the rankings. Is it fair, for those who don’t or can’t apply ED, I don’t know. If Colby is one’s first choice and you run their cost calculator and feel good about the financial aid results (save the results) then apply ED. One can also fill out some FAFSA forms before applying ED to get a sense of what the outcome is from that perspective - that is not college specific but may (no guarantee) pick up on things that are not picked up by Colby or others cost calculators. Again look at the results of what FAFSA comes up with to see if that makes sense if you end up within a range around that EFC. If one is accepted and the financial aid is off their estimates to a great extent - not a couple hundred but a couple thousand or more, then discuss with them what is going on and how you feel it is bait and switch. Back out if there is not a fair resolution. They don’t want ED students backing out. If your original financial aid estimates don’t line up with what one is willing to pay for any specific school in the first place then it probably doesn’t make alot of sense in applying ED to that school. If you still want to apply, apply RD and if you get in then you can determine at that point if the financial aid makes any sense. Go into the process with your eyes open.

Do the math.
Only 41% of Colby 2024 ED accepted students received financial aid.
19% of that 41% received Pell grants.
10% are international, some who need financial aid, most of whom do not.
A high percentage of those Pell grant kids are URMs.

Let’s say that the applicant isn’t a recruited athlete, legacy, faculty kid, or URM.

Now add in geographic diversity.

What are the odds for a non-hooked ED applicant from New England who requires significant financial aid? Educated guess says around 5% - at best.
1 in 20.

Remove the lowest performers, those with SAT scores below 1400.
Now you have an applicant pool of the highest achieving students, with SAT scores above 1400. But that won’t cut it for this group of unhooked, financial needy kids.
Best guess is that the 1 in 20 type applicant has a mean SAT of at least 1550.

Best guess is that an unhooked, high financial need kid below 1500 will have almost no chance.
Keep this in mind when looking at the admissions statistics published by colleges.

Also the first generation college students represent a significant portion of the kids who receive financial aid. The unhooked, non-URM, middle class kid who needs financial aid has to “walk on water during a tsunami”, according to one expert.

[ “for the Class of 2024 admitted through Colby’s early rounds, 41% of students will be receiving financial aid and approximately 19% will be Pell grant recipients. 33% of students self-identify as students of color, and 16% are first generation to college students. Nearly 10% of students are non-US citizens.”]

“Students who come from middle-class households are underrepresented at highly selective colleges and universities…Friedman and his colleagues also found that, among students who scored exactly 1400 on the SAT, those who came from middle-class families were far more underrepresented at elite institutions than their peers from higher- and lower-income families.”

Well said, @gardenstategal!

Final comment.

Colby is needs aware. By Colby’s own statistics, 59% of accepted ED applicants did not require any financial aid. Combined with the 19% of low income Pell grant recipients, a full 78% of the 2024 ED accepted students were from the opposite ends of the income spectrum, leaving the middle income students underrepresented. This is referred to as the barbell effect.

Middle income applicants with family income levels between approximately $50,000 and $300,000, who typically represent the majority of applicants, competed for the remaining 22% of seats. Among those applicants too wealthy for Pell grants but still needing financial aid were recruited athletes, URMs, children of less prosperous legacies, and students with local connections in Maine. An unhooked applicant not in possession of one of the advantages has much lower odds of acceptance than a hooked applicant.

If the acceptance rate for Colby ED applicants is approximately 25% overall, the acceptance rate for unhooked applicants might be only 5%.

It isn’t just how Colby operates. It’s how most elite college operate.

Books like “Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites” discuss this.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed rates Colby 4th nationally in its generosity to low income students. (That sandwiched it between Stanford and Harvard).

The Fair Shot program for families with incomes of less than $150,000 is very attractive.

Yes, there are a lot of kids competing for those funds. And it’s a touch admit for anyone who isn’t hooked, as noted.

But it’s all real.

And as previous studies on NESCAC athletics have noted, they highly favor FP kids, so it’s little surprise that the ED round, which skews heavily toward them, would reflect that.

I don’t get the “gaming” allegations any more than every Ivy League institution sending out thousands of “interest” letters to prospective students knowing that they can only accept a fraction of those. It’s smart to have a free application so as not to dissuade someone who otherwise might apply. As the parent of a current freshman who happens to be from the south, I can assure you they are wise to try to broaden their reach beyond the northeast. They could use a little perspective ha ha. Having a more diverse student body not only broadens the experience of the students on campus, but it also enhances name recognition beyond New England. Why would anyone be put off by an institution trying to improve their standing which not only helps the institution but helps their students as they go forth into the world! Good job Colby.

Agree with budgiegir13 - no gaming going on here more than anywhere else. Perhaps just a better focus on what they are trying accomplish and execution on it.

Here is a dated article (2015) of the Colby initiative to increase awareness/diversity when the new president came in in 2014. Interesting that he came from University of Chicago and they had been out in front of the pack with their efforts in this manner years before.

I just wanna add as a current student who has been to schools in South Asia, Europe and now in the US(personal opinion not repping Colby or anything) but I was an international kid who had the chance to talk to them, explain my situation and change my financial contribution 4 times before enrollment to make it possible for me to attend a school such as this. And ngl, every day I wake up on the hill, have a chance to work in student employment, send money home and take classes and courses that very few institutions would support I thank my lucky stars.

Is Colby better than other Nescacs? I honestly don’t know. Have I always found help here and resources and connections to make my dreams come true? Hell yeah.

I think they are all gaming, tbh. At what point will we consider it “too much” of the class coming in ED1/2/+? It’s 60% now in some colleges. 75%? 85%? I fear we will reach a tipping point with too many schools where it’s ED or nothing. Which is terrible for anyone looking for merit aid.

FWIW - My child does not know a single student who is full pay at Colby. His friends (mostly middle-class unhooked kids) discuss how they can’t imagine how anyone would be able to pay the full tuition. I know there are plenty of full pay kids at Colby (mine is one of them), but there are plenty of kids who are not. They are bright, hard working kids who were accepted to many great schools and chose Colby for what it offers, part of that being affordability.

Colby is a majority of full pay students.

Please see the most recent common data set they have published.

“Full time undergraduates, 1857”
“Number of students awarded any financial aid, 686”

That means that 1171 students were full-pay, 686 received any amount of financial aid.

Middle class and lower middle class students are hugely underrepresented. This isn’t accidental. It’s by design.

That data is four years old. My anecdotal experience is that the programs that Colby has implemented recently have helped to move the school in the right direction regarding affordability. Change does not happen overnight, but I think that Colby is doing the right things.

Well in fairness, the money has to come from somewhere. Small private liberal arts colleges don’t have the endowments of larger universities or Ivy League schools. The full pay students make it possible to offer aid to kids who could not otherwise attend. Most colleges would like to have more under-represented groups. But the bills have got to get paid. You have to make it work somehow for the long haul.

While not in the top ten, Colby has one of the largest endowments per student in the country at $431,925 per student.

It’s not about the bills getting paid. Their total endowment is over $828,000,000 for a student population of less than 2000. They choose to prioritize wealthy students. They have that right, as do other elite LACS. And yes, the full pay kids can offset other kids.

Lower middle class and middle class applicants who read these posts should understand this and realize that if they don’t possess a significant hook, they need to be 1550 SAT type kids to have any real chance. Some applicants look at the averages and imagine that they have a realistic chance. They need to be better informed. Admissions offices want to increase their applications so they can reject more applicants, and increase their rankings. Colby has a free application and has made the application process easier. If anyone thinks this is out of benevolence they are mistaken.