Throughout the fall and winter, teenagers filed in and out of the Deerfield Admissions Office to determine if Deerfield was the right fit for them and if they were the right fit for Deerfield. About 1,850 prospective students submitted applications, vying for very few spots.
In March, only 327 prospective students (16%) received admission, compared to last year’s similar 15%.
The school hopes for a 61% yield, or about 200 accepted offers.
According to Dean of Admission Pamela Safford, the student body has grown too large, and the school has been working to “right-size” the school down to 625 students through a three-year plan that commenced last year. This effort to downsize the number of students impacts applicants for the sophomore and junior classes, because the number of students admitted for those grades will shrink further.
Therefore, the Admission Office must reject or wait-list a great number of qualified students. Every year, the admission team focuses on picturing the ideal incoming Deerfield student in order to choose between competitive applicants.
According to Ms. Safford, Deerfield needs to “ensure that our overall composition remains interesting and varied” while continuing “to raise the academic profile of the class.”
The Admission Office utilized a “DA Student Composite,” developed in 2013, to guide their selection. The composite states, “Deerfield Academy is committed to high standards of scholarship, citizenship and personal responsibility.” Using the composite, admission officers view students based on these three categories.
Ms. Safford also discussed the Hess Center’s influence on last year’s process: “A first-class arts building does, indeed, challenge us to include, among our many other needs, students who have expressed strong interest in the visual and performing arts . . . Having a new facility simply reminds us of the importance of this aspect of the program.”
Ms. Safford explained that while the Admission Office focused on the visual and performing arts last admission season, they were determined to prioritize sports and fill Deerfield’s teams with top-notch athletes this year.
Ms. Safford explained that “this is a first step toward the greater goal to improve some of our historically strong, but more recently less successful, athletic teams, so that students on these teams can reasonably expect to go into the year with a shot at a winning season.”
Thus, the Admission Office is working to make Deerfield once again a forerunner in athletics, accepting more athletes whenever possible. Many have lamented the decline of Deerfield athletic programs—for instance, football’s record of 2 wins and 6 losses, and girls ice hockey at 9 wins and 14 losses.
Nonetheless, the Deerfield admission process remains fiercely competitive. The pool consists of all different types of applicants, from artists to athletes to impressive students. The officers work meticulously to pick out a student body that is as diverse and well-rounded as possible.