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Saint Mary’s sees rise in talented freshmen

Megan O'Neil | Saturday, August 20, 2005

Recovering from a significant drop in enrollment last year, Saint Mary’s welcomed an academically strong and geographically diverse first year class of 379 students to campus this weekend.

Members of the Saint Mary’s class of 2009 hail from 33 different states. While Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio once again topped the list, there were also impressive numbers of students coming from Pennsylvania and Florida, said Dan Meyer, vice president for Enrollment Management.

The median GPA for first year students ranges from 3.36 to 3.97, Meyer said, and the average high school class ranking is the top 22 percentile. The median ACT score ranges from 23 to 27 and the median SAT score is between 1070 and 1220.

The incoming class also includes 18 high school valedictorians and one salutatorian, Meyer said.

Academically, the class is comparable to those of past years, said interim director of admissions Mona Bowe.

“It is very similar as the last two years, a little bit stronger,” Bowe said. “The median scores are a little higher. I am very happy with the quality [of the class].”

Roughly one third of the class have mothers who graduated from Saint Mary’s, a typical figure, Bowe said.

An unusually small Saint Mary’s first year class last year, composed of just 352 students, caused concern on campus and forced admissions counselors to intensify recruiting methods.

“We did a second push with applications right after the beginning of the year [in January] and that worked,” Bowe said.

The admissions office targets a special group of students and gained 38 more women for the class, Bowe said.

Admissions counselors also kept in much closer contact with applicants and potential applicants throughout the winter and spring, Bowe said. Targeted high school seniors who did not initiate communication with the school themselves were called or sent information.

New facilities on campus, including the Noble Family Dining Hall, Opus Apartments and the Student Center served to attract potential students to the College, and feedback after campus tours was strong, Bowe said.

Bowe said that Saint Mary’s is competing for a very small pool of students. Less than five percent of the total college applicants nationally are interested in attending a women’s college, she said.

“Most of the students who apply to Saint Mary’s apply in spite of the fact that it is a women’s college, not because it is a women’s college,” Bowe said.

Saint Mary’s applicants rarely apply to other women’s colleges but rather to large coeducational schools, both public and private, Bowe said.

While Bowe said she is confident in the progress the admissions office has made, she and her colleagues will continue to refine their recruiting efforts.

“I think we need to focus more on transfers.” Bowe said. “This year we have 33. I think that is an area where we can improve.”

International students is another demographic the College needs to emphasize, Bowe said. The class of 2009 has only one foreign student, an unusually low number.