Applications up 30% to nearly 12,000 in historic surge

By Abigail Chang

Middlebury’s applicant pool set a new record this year, growing to 11,908 students  — a 30% increase from last year’s 9,165  applicants. It was also a notable increase from the previous record of 9,750 applicants for the class of 2023.

Applicants hail from 50 states — as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico — and 140 countries. The admissions office also saw a 21% increase in the number of students of color.

The class of 2025 will be the first group of students admitted while Middlebury pilots its test-optional policy. The college announced the policy and its three-year trial period last April amid uncertainties about the Covid-19 pandemic, though Dean of Admissions Nicole Curvin said the admissions office had been considering implementing the idea for more than a year prior. Just under half of all applicants took advantage of the policy this year.

Curvin believes the hike in the number applicants is a product of several factors, including the implementation of the test-optional policy as it relates to accessibility. 

“Accessing standardized testing in the last year has been challenging and students and families had great anxiety about this element of the admissions process,” Curvin said in an email to The Campus. She also pointed to the college’s handling of the fall semester as a reason for the historic increase. 

A number of Ivy League and other peer schools are also seeing large applicant pools, which may be because students are expanding their college lists in light of changes to admissions requirements and the need to assess affordability, according to Curvin. 

Out of the 1,041 students who applied to the college using the Early Decision track, 357 were admitted. The number of first generation college students admitted in this round of admissions jumped to 15%, a 6% increase from the previous year.

The college’s acceptance rate grew by eight percentage points during last year’s admissions cycle, with 2,228 students admitted to the class of 2024 — 24% of the total applicant pool. Despite this higher acceptance rate, enrollment only increased by 47 students compared to the previous year. 

Curvin said that last year’s uptick in acceptance rate was due to uncertainties about the enrollment decisions that admitted students might make given the pandemic. She does not anticipate the same increase this year. 

“Our process will be highly selective and in line with our acceptance rates in regular decision prior to the pandemic,” she said in an email to The Campus.

Although 60 students deferred to the class of 2025 during last year’s admissions cycle — roughly twice the usual number — Curvin said it will not significantly impact selectivity this year. The college anticipates an enrollment of 620 for the class of 2025 and 100 students for the class of 2025.5.

The Vermont campus has been closed to all visitors this fall due to the pandemic, so prospective students were unable to tour. The admissions team supplemented a traditional tour with an interactive campus map and has instead conducted outreach virtually, holding online information sessions and webinars.

“We are very thankful for the strong interest this year and enjoying the review of applications from so many talented young people,” Curvin said.

The college will release decisions to applicants on March 21.