Class of ’13 sees record applications

Megan Welch

Students in the admitted class of 2013 were selected from 13,093 applicants, the third largest number of applications in University history. Their average SAT scores ranged from 1300-1420, and 73 percent were ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

This information points to both the high academic standards of Villanova and the success of the university’s enrollment program. Stephen Merritt serves as dean of Enrollment Management, a relatively new field of management that has experienced strong growth in the past 20 years.

Enrollment management is about more than merely deciding who comes to Villanova or not.

“We keep an eye on our enrollment from prospective students all the way to graduation,” Merritt said. “Enrollment is attached to academic issues and every other part of campus.”

The enrollment process starts with high school. Villanova maintains relationships with over 3,000 high schools across the country. But it is often difficult to keep these relationships as guidance counselors often change or fail to keep in touch.

To combat this, the school created a program in 2003 called Villanova Works, which invites guidance counselors to go through the university experience. Counselors come in groups of 50, all expenses paid by Villanova. There are presentations by Dining Services, International Studies, Campus Ministry and Career Services. Students lead tours of each of the buildings on campus.

All events are geared toward providing in-depth and accurate information about Villanova, so that counselors can then relay this information to students.

“There is definitely a connection between a rise in enrollment and the program – with a rise in numbers of students coming from the schools that have participated,” Merritt said.

Along with the Villanova Works program, the enrollment staff travels to at least 40 states a year, spending time with students and their families.

The family aspect is an important part of attracting potential students. Villanova encourages familial connections with the school to such a degree that 25 percent of students in the class of 2013 are related to current students or alumni affiliates and 13 percent of the class is made up of children of alumni, according to Merritt.

These legacy students have a 66 percent acceptance rate into the university, compared to a 45 percent rate for those who are not legacies.

Villanova’s global reputation also attracts many multicultural students, with 1,350 accepted this year.

In addition, 222 students, or 3 percent of the class hails from 56 countries around the globe.

The countries include such diverse places as Croatia, Vietnam, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Myanmar.

Though many schools are experiencing difficulty with the state of the economy, Villanova’s strong financial aid program has helped attract students.

Though recently many universities have begun accepting students based on their ability to pay the tuition, Villanova has always operated on a need-blind basis, meaning no student is denied acceptance based on their inability to pay.

In fact, the financial- aid budget for 2009-2010 actually increased by 9 percent. Approximately 60 percent of the class was eligible for a Villanova grant, at an average of $20,000 per student.

George Walter, associate dean of Enrollment Management, looks at the university’s enrollment process as an extremely important process meant to preserve and enhance the values set forth by the University mission.

“The University seeks to enroll a freshman class that is diverse and consists of students who have distinguished themselves both in and out of the classroom and who reflect the University’s ethos of Veritas, Unitas and Caritas,” he said.