Fewer first-years for 2005
This year’s incoming first-year class is the first one to experience the new policies outlined by the Strategic Plan that was approved by the General Faculty and the administration last year. There are two ways in which the Plan took practical effect in the admissions process this year. The first was in the decreased number of enrolled students.
Both the College and the Conservatory received a record number of applications this year: over 5400 and over 1260 respectively. The Strategic Plan stipulated that the number of students on campus should decrease by 162 over a five-year period, ending in 2010. Therefore, the size of the enrolled class was decreased accordingly.
Specifically, the target class size this year was 775 students in both divisions compared to the 830 of 2004. Debra Chermonte, dean of admissions and financial aid, said that 785 students were anticipated to enroll this fall semester and there were just a few students over that number.
The second way in which the Strategic Plan was of importance to this year’s admission process was the concern with increasing the ethnic diversity of the Oberlin student body and making Oberlin a more international college.
As always, Oberlin admitted a number of international students. Some of the represented countries this year included Japan, India, People’s Republic of China, Ethiopia, New Zealand, South Africa and Macedonia. This year the international students in both divisions make up approximately seven percent of the new class.
In terms of ethnic diversity, the incoming class seems to follow the trends of previous years. There are 37 new African-American students, four Native American, 57 Asian-Pacific American and 33 Latin American. As a whole, the new students of color make up 17 percent of the first-year class. In comparison, last year the percentage was slightly higher — 19 percent.
Unfortunately, in recent years, it has become progressively harder for Oberlin to recruit students of color, as rivalry in this area is enormous.
“We find ourselves competing against other colleges, including Ivy League and other competitive liberal arts colleges, for top students of color,” Chermonte said.
The Oberlin Admissions Office is working hard to rectify this difficulty.
“We are really pushing hard to provide opportunities and access for a substantial number of students of color to visit Oberlin,” she continued.
There are five members of the Admissions staff who are a part of a team that helps recruit more students of color.
“We are also really excited about the possibility of forming a student advisory committee to help us work on this issue,” Chermonte added.
Some members of the existing committee are students of color who visited Oberlin during one of several annual fly-in programs themselves. “Stacey Carter, assistant director of admissions and OC ’99 is leading the recruitment of current students for this committee,” said Leslie Braat, associate director of admissions.
The Admissions Office hopes they will have the committee up and running this fall semester. Yet there are even more initiatives in the works directed towards students of color.
“Over the summer we made an appeal to alumni of color to join our recruitment efforts,” Chermonte said.
A new initiative will be starting in the spring as well — the annual Vernon Jones weekend for admitted students of color will begin this year. “We will encourage juniors as well as admitted students of color to visit campus in the spring,” Chermonte added.
Additionally, Oberlin is in the process of working in association with the
Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges on a program with two high schools in
the Cleveland area that have a significant students-of-color population, namely
Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights high schools.