Gustavus enrollment highest in history

Applications up 1,600 from this time last year and Gustavus’s highest ever. Lindsay Lelivelt.

The Gustavus Office of Admissions has been working to shape the incoming class for the 2011-12 academic year, and what they have seen so far is very exciting. The Admissions Office has received the most applications from a single incoming class this enrollment year than in the past. At this point in the admission process, Gustavus has over 4,600 applicants, compared to 3,100 at this time last year. These numbers are encouraging for Gustavus and its Admissions Office, which recently underwent some significant changes in its staff.

“We’re excited about where we are, but we’re also cautious about where we are,” Vice President of Enrollment Tom Crady said. The Admissions Office is cautious because it is aware that students are applying to more schools than ever before. Some high school students are applying to as many as 12-13 colleges. The increase in applicants may also be due to a new approach used by Gustavus in its recruitment process.

“We’ve used some outside resources to help market ourselves better,” Director of Admission Services Rich Aune said. “It’s shaping up to be a very good class. It will come from, without a doubt, the largest application pool in the history of the college—by a lot.”

Crady and Aune are both serving their first year in their respective positions. Crady joined Gustavus in July, and Aune moved to his new position earlier this year, continuing his 25 plus years of service in Gustavus’s Admissions Department. The Admissions Office gained three new employees this year, all of whom have integrated well into the experienced group.

The admissions process is long and in-depth, requiring a great deal of work from the Admissions employees.

“I think the main thing we try to focus on is a real personalized approach—having a great deal of contact with students, being very responsive to questions and talking to families about financial aid,” Crady said.

“The biggest change this year is [that with these] new strategies we have a large increase in applications—that has been a positive [aspect] for the Admissions Office but has provided some challenge in terms of processing,” Aune said.

The pool of names of potential applicants starts at around 150,000 and is eventually narrowed down to a class of 700 students. From its 4,600 plus applications, the Admissions Office has already admitted more than 2,600 students.

“We have actually admitted 2,682 students … about 420 more than last year,” Crady said.

Financial aid documents are just beginning to be sent out to applicants, and a large number of prospective students are visiting campus. Unfortunately, the last large admissions event, Gustie for a Day, was cancelled due to snow. President’s Scholarship finalists were recently on campus, and the number of finalists is the largest in the history of the scholarship.

The Admissions Office stresses that it is still too soon to have a clear picture of how the class will look because the high number of admitted students will be significantly thinned out before the final class sends in their deposits.

“We’re in about the fourth or fifth inning of a nine inning game,” Aune said.

In dealing with its largest applicant pool in history, Gustavus’s percentage of applicants admitted will be its lowest. This means Admissions will be selective in shaping the incoming class. Academic merit will be considered, as well as other factors. The class will ideally be made from 650 new students and 50 transfer students. Out of state applicants are being considered, from Alaska to California and beyond. Of the 2,600 applicants admitted to the college at this point, the average ACT score is above 27. The average grade point average on a 4.0 scale, unweighted, is a 3.6.

With such a large number of students being considered, it is hard to say exactly what the incoming class will look like, but it is clear that it will be selected from a talented group.

“It’s been a very good year so far, and we anticipate that it will be a very good class, and a class that the rest of campus will be proud to embrace next fall,” Aune said.