Students’ Reactions to Decreasing Acceptance Rate

by Emily Price

We all know that Colby’s acceptance rate has dropped significantly in the past couple of years, but is the new crop of Colby students really any smarter? The Class of 2019 was admitted to Colby when the acceptance rate was 22.5%, compared to the Class of 2022’s lower 9.5% acceptance rate. This week, The Echo investigated whether students notice a difference between the older and younger classes, and if these differences create any tension on campus and affect the overall student experience. All student responses have been kept anonymous so that students felt comfortable and speak openly about the topic.

Responses from students hit both ends of the spectrum: some reported that they can tell a difference between the older classes and the younger classes, while others say that it hasn’t been a big part of their college experience. One student from the Class of 2022 reports, “I can’t say that the current freshman class had any strong feelings on the divide in acceptance rate between our grade and the ones above us. That being said, almost as soon as the acceptance rate of the incoming freshman class was announced, rumblings began in our grade. I’d say there’s definitely a slight anxiety surrounding some members of my class about the perceived intelligence of the incoming students.”

In accordance with what this student had to say, another member from the Class of 2022 shared similar opinions upon reflecting on this topic. This student also introduces the argument over whether acceptance rates say anything about intelligence: “The difference in acceptance rate between the senior and freshman classes have not affected my experience on campus. Between the grades, everyone seems to respect each other. I am part of the swim team and I am always around a range of grades.

Never have I heard an individual from one grade criticize another individual in another grade because of acceptance rates declining. Within Colby, I believe that despite differing acceptance rates between grades, everyone is viewed as equally smart. However, outside of the Colby community I have heard from others that we compare ourselves to other schools using acceptance rate as an indicator of intelligence. However, the acceptance rate is not necessarily a great indicator of intelligence. Especially since Colby recently became test optional. This can skew the acceptance rate. Overall, I don’t notice a divide.”

Some of the students who feel ambivalent also seem to believe that it might be too early to tell whether the classes are actually getting smarter. A student from the Class of 2019 shares, “I feel like I can’t comment on the effects it has had on campus since the new class hasn’t arrived yet, but I’ve definitely heard comments like ‘I couldn’t get into Colby now.’ I don’t think it has created a divide in any way; I don’t personally feel like students take too much stock in the percentages aside from comments like I previously mentioned.”

On the other side of the argument, there are those students who claim to have noticed a difference between the senior and freshman class. Interestingly enough, these students are part of the Class of 2019. Perhaps these opinions are more popular among the older classes at Colby because they’ve been at Colby for longer and can compare their experience with other grades over a four-year timespan.

One student from the Class of 2019 explains, “ I think that there is a definite divide on campus general difference in campus culture from when we were freshmen and the current freshmen. The current freshmen seem much more academically driven (i.e. knew their majors very early on) and seem to operate less on a “school on the weekdays and fun on the weekends” mentality that I think we do. An example of this is Dana Doghead breakfast. In all four years that I’ve been at Colby, this was absolutely the most tame and lowkey breakfast and felt more like a normal day instead of a day that brings the entire community together.”

The seniors who share the opinion that the younger classes at Colby are different from the senior class worry about the effects that this change in student character will have on the Colby community and future student experience. When asked about the perception of the younger classes, another student from the Class of 2019 says, “Yes. I think that as the grades get younger, they are more competitive to get good grades, and therefore less willing to have fun with what Colby has to offer. Campus has felt more high strung, and less like a community. Maybe because the dynamic of the average student changes with the changing acceptance rate, but “’he Colby Student’ is harder to define now. I think that this divide has caused a lot of unnecessary drama and rivalry since the stakes were so high when we were applying.”

Whether or not it’s true that incoming Colby students are smarter than those who came before them, it is clear that the older classes at Colby have noticed a change on campus. Perhaps this is how the Class of 2016 felt when the Class of 2019 arrived on campus, and perhaps this is how the incoming Class of 2023 will feel when they reach their final year at Colby.