What's Happening with Bard College?

Due to not getting off any waitlists, it looks like I’ll be attending Bard College in the fall. This has caused me to do some research on the school. Back in 2007 ish, their acceptance rate was around 27%. Before 2010, their accpetance rate stayed sub 30%. Their ranking was top 20-30 college in the nation. Jump to today, where their acceptance rate last year was over 60% and they are ranked 62 nationally. What happened? It looks like their acceptance rate started jumping up at around 2016 (before then it still stayed sub 40 percent). Does anyone know what happened? I know the president, Leon Botstein, hates the ranking system with a passion. Is it possible that they stopped reporting to the ranking companies (such as US News)? I haven’t been able to find anything that says they have.

I’m not one to be very superficial about rankings, as I dont think the school has changed much since 2007. It is still going to be a fantastic school that was once ranked top tier. But the suddent jump is very interesting to me. The school itself has still been receiving very large donations, so money can’t be the issue. Does anyone have any information as to what happened?

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Not sure “what happened” but Bard is an interesting school. One big difference about that school compared with others is how Leon Botstein, the head of school, views funding for the college. His personality has been so large that he’s been able to get huge donations to the school consistently. Whereas most schools tend to invest the funds, use some of the proceeds and let the endowment grow, this hasn’t been Botstein’s plan. He has grand plans for expanding education in various directions, everything from beautiful buildings on campus (The Frank Gehry designed Fischer Center for performance), it has expanded into two(?) community colleges (Holyoke is one) and several Bard Early Colleges in High Schools – in Louisiana and NYC and I think Newark, and Bard Simon’s Rock for exceptional HS students, plus the college in prisons program etc etc etc – Berlin too. His idea is to use the money. He fortunately can take in money too.

All this is great as long as Botstein lasts. People have questioned what will happen to this grand stretch of wonderful educational opportunities when Botstein retires or dies.

What I like about the school is that it takes chances. It’s a smart school that does things differently–all too rare nowadays. For example as you know it pioneered a different way to enter college – through it’s Exam. That’s one example. Education in Prisons was another example.

For you, you should know, that Bard has a wonderful reputation for a very self-consciously intellectual and arty education. You can get a great education there, the campus is gorgeous, and probably if you start right now you can graduate before Botstein passes. Hopefully he never will.

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