On March 10, 2022, Concord Academy’s Admissions Office released admissions decisions to prospective members of the Class of 2026.
In an interview with the Centipede, Marie Myers, Director of Enrollment Management, offered insights on this year’s admissions season. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CA saw a sharp increase in the number of applicants. “We, like a lot of other peer schools, experienced what is being called the ‘COVID bump,’” Myers commented. While the average of the previous three years held steady at approximately 850 applications, the Admissions Office received a record-high 1,056 applications for the Class of 2025. The number of applicants this year remains high, having surpassed 1,000 even before the admissions reading period concluded. The geographical distribution of applicants was also more diversified, with students applying from a total of 41 countries and 31 states. Since CA remained SSAT-optional, the Class of 2026 is the second class that was not required to submit standardized testing scores, a reform instituted in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Protocols surrounding standardized testing next year remain to be determined as policies continue to shift.
In 2022, the Admissions Office reinstated the position of senior readers, who serve on the admissions committee, evaluate student applications, and, ultimately, shape next year’s incoming class. “[They put forth] an important perspective that we like to take into consideration during the admissions process,” said Myers, who lamented the absence of senior committee members last year due to concerns of stress and excessive screen-time induced by the workload, especially in a virtual learning and working environment.
Another result of the pandemic and the tumultuous global political climate was a decrease in international applications last year, though the number is rebounding this year. The most notable decline was seen in applicants from China, which was not surprising, given the current geopolitical dynamic between China and the US. According to Myers, peer schools of CA have observed similar trends.
“What we’re excited about is that this year the admissions season and process has felt a lot more normal,” Myers noted. Though admissions officers have conducted less travel, on-campus tours have resumed from September to January, with the help and leadership of CA’s student tour guides. Incoming families will also be invited to rejoin the CA community this year on Revisit Days. Interviews, however, were still held virtually. For Myers, in-person interviews with the constraints of COVID-19 protocols complicated the experience for all parties involved. Compared to the alternative of subjecting already-nervous applicants to an interview with masks and other restrictions, Zoom interviews achieved a beyond stellar effect. This virtual configuration was also useful for families, since parents did not need to be with students in the same place and at the same time. “When students were done with their interview, they could just text or call their parents from another room, and family members were able to hop on Zoom from different locations with convenience,” said Myers.
The Admissions Office, along with numerous shifts and continuities, also identified a salient increase in the number of non-binary applicants, which has doubled from that of the previous year, to a total of 16. This figure reflects the students who identify as non-binary on their applications, not necessarily including those who share this information upon enrollment. Myers remarked, “We’re excited by the notion that students are seeing the various initiatives we’ve had at CA, and just the welcoming community that we are, [so that they feel] safe to share that information with us in the application process versus waiting.”
More broadly, CA’s reputation as a “quirky, artsy” school has undergone a considerable metamorphosis. In addition to being passionate about the arts, more and more applicants are applying to CA for the rigorous, extensive curriculum and activities it offers. “More people are recognizing that there’s a real range of students with a real range of interests,” added Myers. While interests in athletics and performing arts are a great addition to one’s application, Myers concluded, it is never the sole driving factor behind a student’s admission.
CA continues to attract students who understand the school culture and want to live the school mission. The CA community looks forward to welcoming the Class of 2026!