“Just outside of Boston” may be a thing of the past. Well, not really—though the Class of 2019 is one of the most diverse Bates has ever seen.
The Class of 2019 has students from 38 states, as well as 43 different countries. 22 percent are students of color, 12 percent are the first in their family to attend college, and 72 percent of those who reported class rank graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class.
The Office of Admissions has increased their recruitment efforts internationally, as well as broadened their outreach to states like California, Texas, and Florida, where Bates is often not as well know. This extended outreach is a reflection of a national trend in shifting demographics of college-bound teenagers.
Interim Director of Admission Johanna Farrar Seltzer ’03 attributes the broadened outreach to “the changing demographics of the country, as the ethnic and racial diversity of the country increases, and as population centers shift from the northeast to the southwest, the northwest and in the south.”
“I don’t know necessarily the driving forces behind it, other than it’s happening and we are responding to that,” Seltzer said.
The purpose of their response is two fold:
“It’s both relating to the mission of the college—enrolling and celebrating students with diverse backgrounds and perspectives—and having that be a part of the Bates experience,” Seltzer said. “It’s intentionally recruiting diverse populations, but also pragmatically making sure we are responding to demographic shifts as well.”
In order to attract a student from the mid-west or the west coast, the conversation about Bates may be approached differently. Often times, the conversation can be about explaining the concept of the liberal arts education.
Admissions has a number of recruitment tactics. One of the strongest is face-to-face time with representatives from the school. The alumni network plays a significant role in recruiting students, with about 1500 alumni conducting interviews all over the world.
High school counselors play a big role in the college search and application process, so there have been targeted efforts to connect with counselors and make them aware of the opportunities Bates offers. In partnership with Bowdoin and Colby, Bates participates in a counselor tour in which counselors from around the country, particularly communities that are not too familiar with the small Maine schools, are invited to all three campuses.
On campus, student involvement is essential in attracting applicants.
“Our tour guides, senior fellows, and student workers who are meeting with families when they come are fantastic representors and recruiters for Bates,” Seltzer said.
Prologue and Preface are two fly-in programs used to get prospective students from underrepresented backgrounds onto campus. Both are competitive programs that require an application. If they are accepted, Bates flies the student in to visit campus, along with one family member.
Preface is relatively new, but has already benefited the outreach efforts. Preface takes place in the spring and is for high school juniors and it serves the same population as Prologue.
“[Preface] is a really great program for us,” Seltzer said. “Students who are that ahead in their college search are typically really talented academically, so we have the chance to get on their list early and compete with some of the big dogs.”
Korbin Houston ’18 and Denali Nalamalapu ’17 are two Diversity Outreach Coordinators who are involved with Prologue, a decades old fly-in event.
“The purpose of Prologue is to fly-in prospective students from underrepresented backgrounds who maybe would not have considered applying to Bates,” Houston said. “They get to see that Bates is a place [where they] can come and learn. We show them that Bates is a friendly and supportive community, so even though you are far away from home you can make great friends.”
Nalamalapu sees the benefits of providing programs like Prologue for students from diverse backgrounds.
“They’re the students who will potentially gain the most from this program,” Nalamalapu said. “They will get a taste of what it is like to be far from home and thus will be able to gauge how they react to it.”
The first Prologue session will start October 11th and extend through the 13th.
The Class of 2019, as one of the strongest and most diverse classes in history, will keep on the Bates tradition of “Amore ac Studio,” something Seltzer is proud of.
“We are really proud of our students and really part of the work we have been doing to continue to increase the size, the competition, and the quality coming out of our application pool,” Seltzer said. “We’re proud of you guys.”
This article was revised as the original version cited statistics representative of potential first-years based off of the applicant pool, not the 517 members of the class of 2019.