Dear Members of the Saint Mary's College Community,
I am writing to provide an update on fall 2011 undergraduate enrollment indicators after the May 1 National Candidates Reply Date. With a couple of notable exceptions, these indicators provide evidence of continued progress in meeting the College's strategic enrollment objectives. Deposits received as of May 6, 2011, suggest that the College will comfortably meet and likely exceed its enrollment target of 750 new undergraduate students while falling somewhat short of the Trustee-mandated new student discount rate of 33%. At this point, it also appears likely that higher than anticipated new student enrollment will ensure that total new student net tuition revenue meets or exceeds the College's budget target.
The following additional observations arise from the May 6 data:
1) A total of 4,836 first-year student applicants, a nearly 30% increase, allowed the Admission Office to be more selective than in any previous year in College history, admitting slightly less than 69% of applicants. Nevertheless, 400 more new first-year applicants were admitted for fall 2011 than last year.
2) Given typical "summer melt" of 10%, 670 first-year student deposits are required to comfortably meet the College's first-year class enrollment goal. With 640 deposits at this point, 20 to 30 wait-listed students are currently being offered admission. A total of 630 new first-year students seem likely at this point.
3) Yield (the portion of admitted students choosing to enroll at SMC) declined significantly, from 23.9% for fall 2010 to 19.3% for fall 2011. The decline in yield was largest among highly prized candidates, such as those admitted with academic honors (from 19.3% in fall 2010 to 13.3% in fall 2011.)
4) Even accounting for lower yield, the overall profile of the class of 2015 is quite strong. The average GPA of 3.53 and combined SAT critical reading and math scores of 1113 are higher than in any previous year in College history. Given the nearly 40% increase in students admitted with honors, the significant decline in yield nevertheless netted the same number of honors first-year students (115) as last year's record high.
5) The class of 2015 continues the decades-long trend of increasing diversity among new undergraduate students at SMC, with strong growth in commitments from Latino and Asian students resulting in a class in which more than half (52%) identify as students of color. One note of concern: yield on admitted African American students declined precipitously, from 28.2% for fall 2010 to 17.0% for fall 2011.
6) Current financial aid commitments project a new-student discount rate of approximately 34.5% for fall 2011. This compares with 36% for fall 2011 and falls short of the Trustee-mandated 33%. Hopes that a somewhat stabilized and moderately improving economy would improve the financial condition of fall 2011 aid applicants were not borne out. In fact, this year's group presented similar levels of need as those applying in fall 2010. State budget uncertainty and the potential impact on Cal Grants for new SMC students could significantly alter these figures.
7) Initial analysis suggests that Trustee-mandated reductions to aid awards resulted in stark declines in yield from strategically important applicants such as those admitted with honors and African American students.
8) Transfer application, admission and deposit totals as of May 6 closely parallel last year. Of note, deposits from transfer students admitted with honors are much higher, with 17 at this point compared with 10 at the same time last year. Assuming that transfer admission activity follows typical summer patterns, 118 deposits at this time would project out to 185 new transfer students for fall 2011. Reduced access in California public institutions of higher education may push this total even higher.
Thank you to the many members of our campus community whose contributions of time and talent made these results possible.
Vice President for College Communications
Vice Provost for Enrollment