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Crafting a class is perhaps the most essential way that a college can demonstrate the strength of, and fidelity to its mission. Bard College at Simon’s Rock commitment to providing a high quality, liberal arts education to a diverse group of students prepared for college after the tenth or eleventh grade is not just lip service—it’s fully evidenced in the class it enrolls each year. While there are certain characteristics that every student entering college early tend to poses—they’re bright, motivated and curious, to say the least—the class profile tells the story of the immense diversity of experience and backgrounds these students bring to campus.

Provost and Vice President Mary Marcy has often commented that admission at Simon’s Rock is “as much art as it is science.” She’s describing the thoughtful consideration that the office of admission employs when evaluating applications. They’re reviewing the individual profile, as well as how that student might fit into a whole. “This entails looking at what composition of students makes for the best educational experience, and choosing among equally qualified applicants based on interests, backgrounds, skills, and other factors,” explains Dean of the College Leslie Davidson.

Director of Admission Steve Coleman adds, “I regularly ask prospective students, ‘How will you enrich the experience of other students here?’ This is something we’re thinking about in admission.”

These considerations are especially important at a small liberal arts college, which expects students to explore different ideas, viewpoints and experiences—both inside and outside of the classroom. “You learn more from people who are different from you,” says Davidson. “In a small, close-knit community like ours, student diversity is that much more important.”

So, while the College can count its admission success by the numbers—having enrolled another strong entering class of 178 students—the achievement is further pronounced in the impressive financial, racial, ethnic, geographic, gender, education and generational diversity represented in this year’s incoming class.

The Class of 2009 in Percentages

  • 30% of this year’s class is represented by students of color. This is the fifth consecutive year Simon’s Rock has enrolled a class in which students of color represent 26 to 30 percent of its total student body.
  • 22% of incoming students are first generation college students—up from 18% last year, 15% in 2007, 14% in 2006 and 12% in 2005.
  • 33% of incoming students are receiving part of their financial aid through Pell Grants (federal grants offered to students from the lowest income), up from 22% last year.
  • 92% of this year’s incoming class is receiving financial aid.
  • 91% of the incoming class is receiving institutional aid.
  • Students come from 32 different states and nine different countries.
  • 54% of the incoming class is female and 44% is male—the most significant shift from this year to last. Last year, the College enrolled 70% females and 30% males. This year, the office of admission specifically adjusted its recruitment efforts to help balance this skew.
  • 68% of the students come from public schools, 19% from private, 8% from parochial schools and 5% of the class was home schooled.
  • Students enrolling after the tenth or eleventh grade is almost evenly split: 46% of this year’s class came after completing the tenth grade, 49% came after completing the eleventh grade. 4% enrolled after the twelfth grade and 1% arrived after completing ninth grade.