CAROLYN STRANSKY, Staff Writer
Acceptance rates at Beloit College have experienced a rapid increase in recent years, causing many on campus to worry about the college’s reputation.
In the past five years, acceptance rates have risen over 10 percent with an estimated 63 percent rate of acceptance for the class of 2012 compared to the approximate 75 percent for the incoming class of 2016.
One reason for this inflation is that prospective students are applying to more schools, which raises the competition. “When I applied to college, the national average was four schools. Now we see students applying to 10, 15, even 20 other schools,” said Kate Virgo, assistant director of Admissions. “Most colleges now have to admit more students to get the same number to enroll as they used to.”
The Admissions office also doesn’t “play any games” during the process of acquiring prospective students. “Some colleges pay companies to send people preprinted applications so that they will look better in college rankings by denying more students. We don’t think that’s all the more ethical,” said Virgo. “People should apply because they want to apply, not because the college wants to look better later by denying them.”
Another reason is because Beloit seeks out students who fit the profile of a Beloiter, not just those with high GPAs. “We look for well-rounded students. Strong students who have done well academically, yes, but we look at other strengths in a student application. GPA does weigh heavily, but it’s not the only consideration,” said Staci Ambrose, admissions counselor and coordinator of international admissions. “That’s why we say that we don’t have a minimal GPA requirement. We don’t deny a student based on GPA alone.”
So how does this affect Beloit’s ranking?
“One of the big determiners to getting a higher ranking in systems such as USA News and World Report, is how selective a college is. Many of the top colleges will take in 3 or 5 percent to drive up their ranking,” said Elizabeth Vaade ‘02, policy analyst at the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Post-Secondary Education. “By being less selective, Beloit’s rankings will go down. There’s other nuance ranking systems being released where Beloit will score high, but most prospective students refer to the more popular systems where Beloit’s rankings will decline.”
Even as a Beloit alum, Vaade isn’t bothered by the rapid increase in acceptance rates: “I understand that the ranking systems are flawed because it rewards the wrong qualities, and I’m proud to be an alum of an institution that isn’t playing into this game.”
The official numbers for the class of 2016 and the most recent ranks have yet to be released, but affiliates of the college will be anxiously waiting to see where Beloit stacks up against competing schools.