The College of William and Mary’s Class of 2016 is drawn from the largest and most diverse undergraduate applicant pool in the College’s history.
Associate Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions Henry Broaddus and Senior Associate Dean Tim Wolfe credit the increase in applications to a number of factors in a press release, including the College’s positive national reputation and the outreach efforts of admissions staff.
Associate professor in government and the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy Paul Manna commented on the allure the College has for prospective students.
“People find this an attractive place. [the College] provides high-quality education at a public school cost,” Manna said.
Harriman Professor of Government and Public Policy Chris Howard notes that there are more students in general applying to all colleges, and speculated that financial concerns could be the cause.
“Almost every school is getting more students. This may say more about the economy than [it says] of any one school,” Howard said.
While trends over the past seven years show that the College is attracting even-larger applicant pools every year, Howard points out that its ability to attract students is contingent on economic factors.
“Every year, admissions sends me great students,” Howard said. “Whether we can come to expect [a continual rise in applications and student quality] relies on financial aid and the cost of tuition.”
Dayle Hancock, director of teaching laboratories in the physics department, has seen a difference in the makeup of introductory physics courses over the years, which may also be explained by the pressures of the unpredictable economy.
“There has been a real push for the STEM [science, technology, education, and math] fields. In particular, we’ve noticed an increase in certain classes on the pre-med track [in the physics department],” Hancock said.
Professors have found that the influx of undergraduate applications has had a positive impact on the College.
“I think the entering classes are more diverse both racially and economically,” Howard said. “Students are coming to William and Mary as better writers.”
Research may also benefit from the rise in undergraduate applications, Manna explained, since the school will have a more competitive undergraduate pool.
“We’ve been pushing more opportunities for undergraduate students to get involved with research, which we are unusually positioned for with our small size and research facilities,” Manna said.