by Sakhi Vyas '08

What a team!

If Fantasy Football had a "Fantasy First-Year" counterpart, then the Kalamazoo College class of 2013 would contend for a national championship. (Perhaps, given its large number of international students, a world championship.) Here's a preliminary scouting report (and don't miss the story on some of this year's non-traditional "players;" see "Never Too Late to Do It Again.")

Some 390 students enrolled this fall. These include 75 student government members, 15 class presidents, and 344 community volunteers. About one-third of the class participated in at least one sport; more than a third participated in bands, choirs, or other music groups; and 40 percent were members of the National Honor Society.

Twenty-six students have lived and studied abroad, providing that diverse experience to one of the most diverse classes (21 percent are students of color) in the College's history. Furthermore, "K" is extending its reach with a growing geographic diversity across the U.S. and the world. "Kids are coming from all over, and that's what I love," said Associate Director of Admission Rod Malcolm, who leads an international recruiting effort that, this year, yielded 22 four-year students from 14 different countries and 27 one-year visiting international students (10 countries).

Those important stats derive from a keen sixth-sense for identifying what Assistant Director of Admission Maureen Yanik calls "a perfect 'K' kid" among high school auditorium crowds, tour groups, and college fairgoers. Helping prospective students find and identify their "fit" with the college is a crucial step in the admissions process. Recruiting is less a matter of convincing students to come to "K," and more about providing information and guiding a prospective student to make intelligent decisions about his/her educational future. "K" seeks independent thinkers, starting right from the college-selection decision.

Kalamazoo College still engages in many of the traditional methods of connecting students and colleges: high school visits by admissions counselors, the publication-based Colleges that Change Lives events, and college fairs, and mixed-group alumni/parents/prospective student gatherings, to name a few. However, prospective students are reversing traditional processes by actively recruiting schools. Websites such as act as the online matchmaker. Its tagline, "I am more than a test score," is quite appropriate for potential "K" students.

Senior Associate Director of Admission David Anderson sees this trend as a "shift in paradigm." Students actively research and recruit colleges of their choice, "and that's where we pick up the conversation," he said. The change is "cost effective" and "indicative of the way college admissions will happen in the future," and Anderson is optimistic about the College's adaptation to this change.

He noted the increasing number
"Kids are coming from all over, and that's what I love,"
of "stealth applicants" - students who, without a physical visit to campus or an official contact, gather enough information to decide on their top college choices. This phenomenon may explain, in part, the record-breaking volume of out-of-state applicants, which exceeded the usually dominant number of in-state applicants. Despite the increase of "stealth" applications, Yanik saw students visiting campus in late March and April to confirm their choices before submitting deposits. Visit Coordinator Pat Marcinkowski greets them all. As always, she is visibly excited about fresh faces and "so many people coming from so far away."

Not only do they prepare well, they start sooner. Assistant Director of Admission Hillary Teague observed prospective students launching searches as early as their high school sophomore year. Students with long-term vision research colleges early on in order to avoid hasty decisions, she said.

After spending much of her travel time at high schools and fairs in the New England region, Yanik talked with pride about the "fantastic" students who have matriculated from that territory. They are pushing boundaries, she said. Meaningful study abroad, rigorous academics, and new initiatives such as the Guilds program are the experiences they seek. Like Teague, she notes their hunger for information.

This year's "tech-savvy group" wowed the admissions team and has now started its bright journey. Best of luck, class of 2013!

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