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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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First of the class of 2022 admitted


As spring rolls around, Grinnell’s admissions office has begun to assemble the class of 2022. 184 early decision students have already paid their deposits and confirmed their place in the incoming class, and 427 students have been admitted through the College’s early notification program and are preparing to visit campus on Sunday, March 4.

The nature of admissions at Grinnell has changed in the past few years. The College has attracted a larger applicant pool this year than it did just a few years ago, possibly because of admissions efforts to increase the school’s visibility online, the strategic recruitment of prospective students, improved campus visits, a more streamlined the admission process and an emphasis on the school’s individually-advised curriculum.

“In 2011 we had fewer than 3,000 applications for admission and we exceeded 7,000 this year, so we just have more people applying for admission, and those who are applying are especially well-qualified,” said Joe Bagnoli, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission.

In the 2010-2011 school year, 2,969 students applied to the college, with an admissions rate of 43.20 percent. In 2013-2014, 3,979 students applied with an acceptance rate of 35.1 percent. For 2015-2016, 6,414 students applied with an acceptance rate of 25 percent, and for 2016-2017, 5,850 students applied with an acceptance rate of 29 percent. This past year, 7,345 students applied for spots in the class of 2022, further demonstrating the upward trend in admissions since 2011.

The acceptance rate of the school has risen in the past two years, from 20 percent in 2016 to 29 percent last year. Bagnoli attributes this to competition from other prestigious schools. When students that Grinnell admits through regular decision commit to other colleges, it forces Grinnell to admit more students to take their places.

“The admission rate has gone up at the same time that the academic credentials of admitted students have increased, so my sense is that as students applying for admission at Grinnell are more competitive for admission at even more selective institutions, that a smaller percentage of them elect to attend Grinnell. Every year we end up competing against places like the University of Chicago or Brown or Williams or Amherst,” Bagnoli said.

Bagnoli says he thinks an underlying reason that more students are applying to Grinnell than in previous years is the elimination of a necessary supplemental essay on the Common App four years ago. The College has begun to send email requests for optional supplemental essays well after the submission of the Common App, asking students about why they want to go to Grinnell, an attempt to assess their interest in the school.

The early acceptance program that brings regular decision students to Grinnell’s campus before they receive admissions decisions from other colleges is part of the College’s efforts to convince their regular decision admits to choose Grinnell over other colleges that accept them.

“We find that a visit to Grinnell is an important factor in their enrollment decision, so we like to give them the opportunity to visit us before they have committed to visit every place else. We go out early with a portion of our offers for regular decision in order to spread out the options for campus visits,” Bagnoli said.

Bagnoli mentioned several other strategies to get students to apply to the College.

“We have increased our investment in digital strategies. We have made improvements in admissions publications and to our website. We’ve made improvements to our campus visit program so we’ve seen an increased rate of students who visit campus who then apply for admission,” Bagnoli said.

In conversations with The S&B about their decision to attend the College, several students who have already committed to the Grinnell class of 2022 said that their on-campus visits sealed the deal.

“Once I was there, I fell in love with the amazingly supportive atmosphere and the freedom I’d be able to have with a small, liberal arts college like it. I decided to apply early decision that night because I knew that Grinnell is where I wanted to be,” said Ben Peppers ’22.

Jax Seller ’22 also decided that they wanted to attend the College after a visit to campus.

“When I went for a visit everyone was really welcoming and the whole tour and panel went really smoothly and it set the bar for other colleges. I don’t think there were any questions I had that I couldn’t get pointed to someone to answer,” they said.

Other already-committed students were attracted mainly by the individually-advised curriculum, coinciding with what Bagnoli says has been an increasing emphasis in admissions publications on Grinnell’s “boldly individualized approach to learning.”

“I did more and more research and I found out about [Grinnell’s] dedication to social activism and its open curriculum and I fell in love with that and so I got into contact with some students and talked to them and applied ED2,” said Andy Kenly ’22.

Claire Pollard ’22 was also excited about the individually-advised curriculum, saying, “I chose Grinnell because I wanted to go to a respected small liberal arts college with an open curriculum that had a good acceptance to medical school. I also really like the idea that I could double major in two disciplines that aren’t commonly connected: biology and religion.”

Bowen Mince ’22 echoed this excitement about being able to take a variety of classes at Grinnell, saying, “I chose Grinnell because I wanted a place where I could pursue hard sciences and still explore humanities classes. That’s why I really like the open course curriculum.”

Several LGBTQ students were excited to be in an environment that accepts and affirms their identities. Many students were also attracted by the school’s tradition of social activism, while others cited Grinnell’s unpretentious atmosphere as a reason for attending.

Kenley cited Grinnell students’ lack of emphasis on prestige as a reason for applying early decision.

“At the East Coast liberal arts colleges like Williams or Swarthmore, everyone talks about prestige, and the pretentiousness comes along with prestige, and when I looked at Grinnell it didn’t seem like people were pretentious about going to Grinnell,” he said.

Finally, many incoming students said they were impressed by the responsiveness of admissions staff.

“Grace [Lloyd ’16, admission counselor] was one of the reasons [I applied]. Whenever I emailed her she responded to me and told me everything I wanted to know,” said Xindi Sun ’22.

The Class of 2022 will be assembled within the next couple of months from the many students who applied, consolidating a new group of Grinnellians, diverse in their origins and reasons for attending the College.

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