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Deerfield Admissions: More Selective Than Ever
francis lauw 10 staff writer
April 22, 2009

What do 2,061 students from all around the world have in common? Each contributed to Deerfield Academy’s pool of applicants–the highest yet in Deerfield’s history. Applications rose 13.4% from last year, and a mere 16.8% acceptance rate allowed Deerfield to retain its reputation as one of the most selective boarding schools in the country.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Patricia Gimbel revealed that 294 out of 1,987 boarding student applicants and 21 out of 74 day student applicants have been admitted for entrance in the fall of 2009.

“It makes our job easy and difficult at the same time,” said Associate Director of Admission Debra Dohrmann about this year’s diverse and well-qualified applicants. “If we had more beds, we would love them in our school.”

The average annual yield is 65%, and the admissions office foresees a similar number this year.

There were 1066 applicants for the new 9th grade class of 2013, a 12% rise from last year, of whom 144 have been accepted. Although the gender ratio is evenly split amongst incoming freshmen, the admissions office is still waiting for yield results to confirm speculations about an unbalanced gender ratio.

Applications came from all 50 states and 82 countries, including Iran, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Hungary, the Palestinian territory, and Poland. International applicants made up 24% of the total applicant pool and of these 460 students, 41 received invitations to join Deerfield’s global community.

Understanding that the power of technology and the Internet has brought the world closer together, it still is a surprise that the word of Deerfield has traveled to all corners of the world. “China or Antarctica,” said Associate Director of Admission Jose Briones, “It doesn’t matter where we are.” Websites like Boarding School Review and powerful search engines have enabled people from thousands of miles away to connect with Deerfield.

Competition for acceptance continues to be rigorous. “The high-quality applicant pool is exciting for us,” said Mrs. Dohrmann, “but it is also sad to say ‘no’ to so many great kids.”

Many applicants boast perfect test scores and are recognized scholars. Musical, linguistic, and athletic talents possessed by these students also add to the difficulty of the selection process. A developing trend among this year’s applicants is the spirit of entrepreneurship. Students have strengthened their applications through their involvement with independent online stores and charity organizations.

Forty-four percent of applicants have requested financial aid, a significant increase from last year’s 40%. The admissions office is pleased with the record-breaking number of applications, particularly given the economic turmoil in the country and the world.

Mrs. Gimbel explained that a reason for the increasing interest in boarding schools might be attributed to families on the move due to changing or travel-demanding jobs. Families place priority on stability for their children and thus choose to send them to a school that ensures a stable environment.

“People are always seeking quality education, even with the economic downturn,” said Mr. Briones. “That’s why we’re beneficiaries of that kind of success.”