While we highlight alumni who have made enormous impacts on their chosen fields in this issue of Dickinson Magazine, it is important to acknowledge a younger generation of students and recent alumni who are poised to make significant contributions in the years ahead. Let’s look at the newest Dickinsonians—the class of 2011. They recently arrived on campus ready to take on the world—or at least the challenges of Dickinson College—and the habits of mind that we seek to develop in them.
The 5,843 students applying for admission this past recruitment year represented the largest pool ever—up more than 80 percent from eight years ago. Our fall class is the second-most selective in Dickinson’s history, with the lowest acceptance rate since 1988—41 percent.
But the class of ’11 is not simply about selectivity. Its 621 members are very diverse, hailing from 38 states and 21 foreign countries. Nearly a quarter of them come from outside of the Virginia-Maine corridor with almost 7 percent from the Western states. Slightly more than 16 percent come from New England and about 8 percent from the South. Just about 6 percent of our new students are international, and 14 percent are from underrepresented minority groups. The gender balance of the class is the closest to 50/50 that it has been since the early 1980s—with 48 percent males.
Academically, the numbers are stellar as well. Ninety percent of incoming students who submitted standardized test results had average SAT scores of just under 1280, and just under 50 percent had GPAs that placed them in the top 10 percent of their high-school classes.
About half of our new students receive scholarship or grant support from Dickinson—the vast majority based on financial need and/or merit within need. As entering student credentials have become more impressive during the last decade, the standards for academic scholarships have increased.
Only 6 percent of the class received academic scholarships without having a recognized financial need—quite a shift from the late ’90s, when non-need scholarships or “discounts” were offered to about a fifth of the entering students to encourage enrollment.
Today the value of Dickinson’s distinctive brand of the liberal arts attracts students who, if they are able, are willing to pay and make sacrifices in order to attend Dickinson. The college continues, however, to be committed to financial access for excellent students whose families do not have sufficient resources to afford Dickinson’s total cost. Financial aid will continue to be an important—and critical—tool for bringing together students from around the country and the world who will benefit from, and contribute to, Dickinson’s community of inquiry.
Even the most seasoned admissions officer could not predict which members of this exceptionally talented class will have a major influence on our world once they leave the limestone walls. I would not be surprised, however, if some of them came from this impressive class of 2011, which includes:
- a mountain climber who scaled Mount Rainier, Mount Whitney and the Grand Teton summit
- the 11th-ranked Irish dancer in the United States
- the founder of a statewide, nonprofit support group that works with abandoned or abused children
- the third-ranked competitive roller skater in the country
- the founder of a national organization that increases awareness of, and raises money for, blind students and others with disabilities
- descendents of both John Dickinson and Benjamin Rush!
I have been privileged to preside over the selection of eight first-year classes at Dickinson—two full generations of Dickinsonians with impressive credentials and personas. With me here at Dickinson since 1999—and for nine years before that at Johns Hopkins University—was Seth Allen. As Dickinson’s dean of admissions, Seth played a critical role in positioning the college for success and in transforming the admissions office into a national model for the effective use of technology in student recruitment.
This summer Seth accepted an opportunity to be dean of admission and financial aid at Grinnell College, one of the nation’s premier (and best-endowed) liberal-arts colleges. I will miss Seth greatly and thank him, on behalf of all Dickinsonians, for his tremendous contributions. As much as anyone at Dickinson, Seth’s mark is on this fabulous class of 2011.