For weeks, when prospective students told neighbors and relatives that they’d been admitted to Carleton College in Minnesota, they heard that it would be cold and snowy. And when the time came, Minnesota did not disappoint.
From April 11th to April 13th, and again from the 18th to the 20th, a total of three hundred fifty-two admitted students , or “prospies,” visited campus, an all-time high for the school according to Admissions Counselor Peter Varnum ’08. They arrived at Carleton in the midst of whirling winds and late-season snow, dumping accumulations that would give the campus the appearance of a snow-globe.
The prospective students represented approximately a quarter of the 1,475 students that were admitted from an applicant pool that grew by an unprecedented 20% this year, causing the college’s acceptance rate to plummet nearly 5% to 20.98%.
They came from 38 states and ten countries, including, among others, China, the Phillipines, Portugal, and Belgium, which sent two students.
The visits began with a dinner for the students and their families and welcoming addresses by Dean of Admissions Paul Thiboutot and President Poskanzer followed by performances by campus a capella groups.
On Friday, the students had the opportunity to visit two classes of their own selection and to attend a number of information sessions on particular aspects of life at Carleton, among them financial aid, study abroad, and extracurricular activities.
New this year was the “Prospie Lounge”, a place in the library’s Athenaeum for admitted students to meet and get to know their fellow ‘17ers.
Many prospective students had positive visits. “I really like the students, the culture, and that everyone isn’t very competitive but seems really invested in academics,” said Natalie Rose Schwartz of Altadena, California, who was also admitted to Harvard, Yale, and Macalester.
She also commended the “liberal arts focus,” as well as the two classes she observed, a 200-level political science class about food justice and an English course about children’s literature.
“They were very discussion-driven and focused on a specific element, which is good,” she said. “The professors seem really interesting, and it was obvious that the students had done the reading and cared about the reading.”
As for the weather, she said, “It’d get old after a while, but right now it’s still kind of cool.”
Kayla Toney, of Mississippi, says Carleton is her “top choice now.” Toney cited Carleton’s intellectual atmosphere as the reason for her change of heart.
“I went to two classes today that weren’t things I thought I’d be interested in, but by the time I left, I was interested,” she said, adding that the professors seemed “eager to talk to me because I was a prospie.”
In addition to the academics, she spoke positively of the food, particularly of the availability of vegan and vegetarian fare, as well as the dorms, which differed starkly from the “jailhouses” she’d observed on other campuses.
Some of the students who visited were Early Decision Admits, or had already committed to attending Carleton. “I had a good time,” said Edith Emmings from St. Paul, Minnesota, who already chose to attend Carleton but came to Accepted Students Weekend to get a better feel for the school.
“I’m from Minnesota so the weather didn’t bother me as much, and I had a lot of meeting people and seeing what college life was like.”
However, not all the prospective students were happy.
“I really don’t like partying and I applied to Carleton to get away from that, but I got put on the party floor,” an unidentified prospie was overheard saying, “I think they call it First Burton.”