Collaborating in Admissions

Six leading liberal arts colleges join forces on communicating with students, parents and counselors.

August 31, 2020
From the "Six Colleges" website

Six leading liberal arts colleges are collaborating -- for students, parents and counselors -- because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The colleges -- Amherst, Bowdoin, Carleton, Pomona, Swarthmore and Williams Colleges -- will not be collaborating on admissions decisions or on financial aid. They are offering joint programs on the coronavirus, explaining the faculties, undergraduate research, financial aid, campus life and applying to college during the pandemic.

The colleges involved are all highly competitive, and are all expensive but are generous with financial aid. They are spread from Maine to Southern California.

E. Whitney Soule, senior vice president and dean of admissions and student aid at Bowdoin, said via email that despite the geographic reach of the colleges, "our six institutions have a lot in common related to size, liberal arts, resources, financial aid policies, and approach to the student experience."

She added that "we assume that a student looking at one of our schools may benefit from being introduced to all of our schools. The purpose of providing a one-stop sign-up for our mailing lists and hearing from all six schools on topics that are of interest to many students, families and counselors, we hope makes it easier to get to know residential liberal arts colleges as well as our schools specifically."

Soule said, "Our messaging about liberal arts, affordability, faculty engagement, applying during the pandemic is not exclusive to the six of us, but we’ve started with this smaller group as a way to test out this approach and the logistics involved in coordinating among multiple schools."

The first event was Wednesday evening. "We had about 1,150 people signed on for our one-hour event, in which the first half was our shared introduction to the topics and the second half was fielding as many questions from the hundreds that were submitted as we could get through," she said. "Most of the questions had to do with space available next fall based on defer numbers for this year, how we will view students' applications if their grades or activities have been disrupted in the pandemic, how test optional works, college searching without visiting, and issues of diversity, equity and inclusion both in and out of the classroom."


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