Don’t End the Feb Program

By Guest Contributor

Dear Editor,

I write in response to Zach Drennen’s recent ill-informed and unfortunate column, “End the Feb Program,” with the following points.

1) Mr. Drennen’s assertion that the College “only reports the diversity statistics of fall admits” is simply untrue. All the information on class statistics we provide on our website, in our publications, and to prospective families during information sessions, fairs, and school visits includes the entire first year class for both September and February. The only exception is the federal report for IPEDS, the U.S. Department of Education’s annual data collection program. That program mandates that we report statistics each fall for enrollment as of a specific October date. Our data on the entire student body always includes the previous year’s February matriculates, but it may not include the upcoming Febs, according to those federal regulations.

2) Mr. Drennen is correct that the enrollment origins of the Feb program no longer make much sense, which is why that is no longer the reason we have it. Today’s generation of college-bound students are much more interested in seeking non-linear routes through their education, hence the increasing interest in gap years, the Feb program, internships, and other experiential forms of learning. Middlebury has been a leader in encouraging those paths, and the Feb program is a reflection of that school of thought.

3) Any sense of inferiority one might have as a Feb would seem to be strictly self-induced. The average academic ratings, test scores, and selectivity for Feb’s is virtually identical to Septembers, and, in some categories, has actually been higher than that of fall first-years. Our current Strategic Plan calls for Feb admission to be voluntary, and now typically 95 percent of the annual class is so. We do not admit any candidates for Early Decision unless they indicate they are willing to be considered for a Feb start, and the same holds true for the vast majority of regular decision applicants, who would ordinarily have multiple options, in order to ensure no student would enroll as a Feb against his or her wishes.

4) I regret that Mr. Drennen would resort to using a three and a half year-old quote from my predecessor in a previous Campus article to bolster any claims he is making. I respect the work of Campus journalists and have a strong track record of transparency and cooperation with them. My direct contact information is readily available to any Middlebury student. We have, and will continue, to work very hard to shape the annual Feb class in a more diverse manner; no student would be directed away from Feb consideration based on race, culture or socioeconomic background.

Like any top college or university, Middlebury is an appropriately self-critical institution; we have plenty of room for improvement and there are crucial areas in need of continued pointed assessment. Tilting at February windmills is not one of them.

Greg Buckles
Dean of Admissions