The Class of 2019, like several of the classes before them, will be the most competitive year ever for admission to Grinnell. New statistics from the Office of Admission show a record 6,414 applications to Grinnell for the 2015 season, of which, 1,585 (24.7%) were accepted. To achieve these numbers, The College experimented with several new recruiting tactics, including re-designing, and individualizing, the art on their brochures.
“We developed unique Venn-Diagrams for each admitted student by assessing their entire application for admission … and we came up with three distinct elements for every individual student and developed a unique postcard … In everyone’s admission packet they saw something unique to their interests that were relevant to the Grinnell context,” said Joe Bagnoli, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid.
Although Office of Admission couldn’t prove causation, there has been correlation between the implementation of the new strategy and the amount of deposits received by The College. Even with these increased yield rates, however, the college has seen an increase in the academic strength of the average incoming student. 81% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their class and the average SAT score was 1390, a 14 point growth from the 2014 admission year.
The Office of Admission was also largely able to achieve their diversity goals. The incoming class is 6.8% Black or African American, and also 6.8% Hispanic, which lines up with the Office’s goals for racial diversity. In addition to achieving racial diversity, the school also surpassed their target numbers for gender and geographic diversity. 58.5% of students from the 2019 class will be from outside the Midwest, and there will be a 53-47 split in gender make-up.
These diversity initiatives can be met more easily in recent years due to larger numbers of applications from qualified candidates. There were 300 more applications in the 2015 season than in 2014, and this jump was precipitated by significant jumps in applications from 2011 to 2012 and from 2013 to 2014.
Although the Office of Admissions met or succeeded many of their admission and diversity goals this year, they still are working to make the school more attractive to potential applicants. One statistic they are working on is the “conversion rate”, which means the percentage of visiting students who eventually apply. Despite strong performances in other indicators, Grinnell is still struggling raising its conversion rate, and is working on modifying both campus tours and making improvements to the physical campus itself, in order to boast numbers.
“Right now we are working on short term improvements to the John Crystal Center. Orientation in terms of wayfinding, signage, improvements in terms of aesthetics, better arrangements for seating [and] multimedia and sound in the room we use for orientation sessions,” said Bagnoli.
These improvements are part of a larger branding strategy that the College began last year with Crane Marketing. These marketing initiatives have changed several aspects of the College’s recruitment strategy, from content of tours, to orientation sessions to the mailing material sent out to admitted students.
“We are building a narrative … we want to state both a theory and then a case for Grinnell, and we have been working with Crane to articulate that theory and we continue to work with them in order to state the case,” said Bagnoli.
In the future, the Office of Admission would like to raise their numbers even further, and Bagnoli and others in the office believe that this can be done in partnership with Crane Marketing, to build a more diverse, competitive and accomplished student body.