Who is the ‘typical’ CC student? Based on The Catalyst’s most recent interview with Vice President for Enrollment Mark Hatch, an archetypal profile of the quintessential CC student may simply be a myth.
Mark said that the portrait of a CC scholar has “changed a lot in the last ten years.” The school’s increasing popularity has attracted a fresh batch of high school juniors and seniors. What they all have in common is a “strong track record of success—in and out of the classroom,” Hatch said.
It’s his 13th year at Colorado College, and Mark says he’s seen his fair share of strong track records. He said that CC’s version of holistic review is particularly thorough, a rigorous process with the singular goal of getting a “sense of how students will engage in the block plan.”
Every year, the committee sits down to a pool of applicants from all corners of the United States and beyond: this past season nearly 5800 applications flew in from all 50 states and 50 foreign countries.
During review, Mark and the 12 committee members aim to “balance the quantitative and the qualitative,” Hatch said. The latter carries more weight.
So what does the admissions office look for in an applicant?
Mark explained a system that could be referred to as the three Cs: capable, competitive, and compelling. They evaluate whether the student is capable of doing the work at Colorado College, whether or not the student is competitive in the applicant pool, and whether or not the student is generally compelling.
But Admissions must dig deeper; after all, “90 percent of the student applicant pool is capable based on one measure or not.” GPA, class standing, the type of environment the prospective student comes from—every piece of information tells a story.
When it comes to essays, Mark said that he likes to see “freshness of mind and a passion for learning,” as well as a “sense of adventure” from the CC supplement. By asking the applicants to design a block, admissions personnel learn just how creative the students can be as well as how willing they are to try something new.
It is this spirit of adventure that helps the committee build a class. Often, small liberal arts institutions are self-selecting applicant pools. But as CC has gained repute as the Harvard of the West, the ‘typical CC student’ has acquired an even greater mystique.
“We want the most talented class possible but also the most diverse class possible,” Hatch said. Geographic, ethnic, socioeconomic, and global diversity all play roles in the selection process, as well as selected variety of passions, talents, and styles of leadership.
Even so, eclectic mix of admitted students doesn’t stop people from branding the school. Mark said he sees many applicants who view the college as “a very progressive, liberal-minded place that wouldn’t naturally draw conservative students.” For the most part, this assumption proves accurate.
“What we want is more political and religious diversity,” Hatch said. “The goal is to attract undergraduates who will stir the pot in a positive, engaging way.”
As Admissions looks to a future of increasingly competitive applications, it will allow them to be “choosier—but also more deliberate as to how we’re sculpting a class,” Hatch said.
The admit rate has gone from 55 percent to 22 percent in the last ten years. Selectivity has clear benefits for the school, but it can also lead to ill-considered decisions from graduating high school students.
“High school students are driven by prestige—the bumper sticker that’s going to look the best on the back window of the family car,” Hatch said. “It’s about finding a match: a place, not a prize,”