New Admissions Philosophy Brings in Impressive First-Year Class

Strong Academics, Diverse Accomplishments Distinguish Trinity’s Class of 2020

Hartford, Connecticut, May 12, 2016 – Every May, colleges around the country celebrate the enrollment of a new first-year class, lauding the latest cohort’s accomplishments, selectivity, and geographic diversity. This year at Trinity College, that celebration comes on the heels of sweeping changes to the admissions process that have yielded an impressive Class of 2020.

As of May 1, Trinity’s Class of 2020 consists of 596 students from 33 states and 39 countries. The number of students enrolled in the incoming class from the West Coast doubled, and the number of international students is up to a record high of 73. Fifty-three percent of students in the class are women, and 14 percent will be the first in their family to go to college.

Perhaps most significant, Trinity’s current yield rate (the percentage of students who accepted the College’s offer of admission) rose from 22 percent to 30 percent.

The shift in approach and philosophy that led to these results followed the arrival last summer of Angel B. Pérez, vice president for enrollment and student success.

“From my first days at Trinity, I told our admissions team that we were not just looking for more applications, but for the right applications,” Pérez said. “We spent the last year fostering a genuine interest in Trinity among students who understand what is special about studying the liberal arts in an urban setting.”

With that focus on “the right applications,” Trinity’s Office of Admissions reintroduced two optional essays with prompts specific to the College and its engagement with Hartford. This change predictably reduced the number of applications but increased the level of interest from those who did apply. Because Trinity College is a member of the Common Application, applying was previously as easy as checking a box, something Pérez says resulted in hundreds of applications from students who never had any intention of enrolling at Trinity.

In October, Trinity announced that it would no longer require SAT or ACT scores for admission, a path that 40 percent of the Class of 2020 chose. The Admissions Office also began looking closely at the personal characteristics most predictive of success in college, traits such as grit, persistence, creativity, curiosity, and the ability to overcome adversity. Admissions counselors gauged these predictive characteristics through conducting interviews, reviewing student essays, and considering the input of teachers and school counselors.

Pérez wrote about this shift in philosophy in a February op-ed for The Huffington Post. The changes at Trinity have garnered nationwide attention, including in the college counselor community.

“We applaud Trinity’s decision to join the growing list of highly selective colleges that are now test-optional,” said Marcia Landesman, director of college counseling at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut. “By taking testing out of the equation, we can help students discover outstanding colleges that they might not have otherwise considered. Students make better college choices when they focus on fit rather than numbers, and we’re delighted that Trinity has taken this positive step.”

With this class comes also a surge in academic quality, with 50 more students in the top academic quartile, fueled in part by 10 Presidential Scholars (up from four last year) and 75 1823 Scholars, participants in a new scholarship program for students with strong academic achievement and extraordinary personal character.

In addition to their academic strength, students bring a remarkable variety of experiences and accomplishments. The new class includes a student who developed a mobile ride-sharing app in New Delhi, an inventor of a new method for removing nitrogen from water, a performer trained in trapeze and clowning, the founder of a company that manufactures and donates knit hats to children in need, and hundreds of other accomplished students, artists, athletes, musicians, activists, and entrepreneurs.

Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney said she is excited to welcome the new class in the fall. “The Class of 2020, with its great geographic diversity and myriad accomplishments, will help us as we continue to value a campus with a truly global perspective.” She added, “I appreciate the hard work of the admissions and financial aid team and everyone on campus, including faculty members and coaches, who contributed to bringing in this exceptional new class.”

The Class of 2020 was also one of Trinity’s most selective in recent history, a sign of positive trends but a data point that Pérez hesitates to celebrate.

“We don’t measure success by how many students the College turns away,” he said. “Instead, we celebrate the potential of this class to thrive in the classroom, engage with the Hartford community, and make a difference on our campus. By that standard, I could not be happier about this extraordinary group of young people and the future of Trinity College.”