15, 455 applications. 

6, 940 students admitted.  

A 14% drop in the acceptance rate.

Although move-in is still months away, Fairfield University’s Class of 2027 has already managed to shatter institutional records.

The Office of Admissions received an unprecedented number of undergraduate applications in 2023. Over the past five years, the total has increased by 35%. 

Subsequently, the acceptance rate has dipped to a new low of 44.9% from last year’s rate of ~58%. 

Corry Unis, the Vice President for Strategic Enrollment, attributes this shift to Fairfield’s recent climb to #115 in the national ranking of Best National Universities by U.S. News and World Report. 

Unis believes that the recognition has “opened up the minds of students in different parts of the country that weren’t as attracted to a regional school, as we’re now becoming more attractive as a national school.” 

According to the U.S. News and World Report, colleges and universities are categorized using a methodology that is “the product of years of research” and engagement with “institutional researchers and high-ranking academic officials.”

The ranking factors range from graduation and retention rates to faculty resources, including class size and student-faculty ratio. 

U.S. News also acknowledges the strength of institutions’ individual programs.

Fairfield earned distinctions within a number of departments. Notably, Fairfield’s School of Engineering and the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies placed in the top one hundred nationwide.

Unis expressed that the Office of Admissions has “seen applications grow every year for the last number of years. This past year was the biggest increase that we’ve realized in many years.” 

He estimated the number of applications grew by 18% in 2023. 

In addition to the national ranking, Unis believes that the university’s implementation of the Student Search program has contributed to the increase. 

“We’re actively recruiting students who are sophomores and juniors in high school and encouraging them to apply as seniors,” Unis conveyed. “We’ve seen some great successes and we’ve continued to increase our attention to sophomores and juniors in high school in order to build a deep connection with them and have them want to join the Fairfield community.” 

Moreover, a major draw for high school students is Fairfield’s test-optional policy. For more than a decade, the institution has not required students to submit standardized test scores. 

This decision aligns with Fairfield’s Jesuit tradition, which prioritizes “cura personalis” and viewing the totality of each student’s being. 

“We try to eliminate barriers to entry for students [and] artificial roadblocks,” Unis explained. “I think testing for some students can be a really great way to demonstrate some of their skill set. For other students, it can be a little bit more problematic. So, being optional gives the power to the students where they can make the determination whether or not they wish to submit those scores.” 

When reviewing applications, Unis revealed that he reads students’ essays prior to evaluating their grades and numerical data.  

“It’s that glimpse into understanding who that student is,” Unis elucidated. “That essay is our first foray into understanding the prism which we should use to review the rest of the application.” 

This notion of a broader understanding of one’s character and the ideal of “cura personalis” encapsulates the institution’s mission to support students in their development as global-minded citizens. 

A recent Fairfield News article reported that the large applicant pool encompassed students from “1,455 high schools across the United States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as thirty-nine countries around the world.” 

As Fairfield becomes home to students from an array of backgrounds, Unis underscored the Office of Admissions’ commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“We want to make Fairfield University’s enrollment reflective of the world we live in. That’s a priority that we’ve had since I’ve been here [and] well before I got here,” Unis declared. 

He mentioned the work of the Diversity Recruitment Team, which is “focused on growing the numbers of traditionally underrepresented students every single year.” 

Last year, the Office of Admissions launched the Company Scholars Program.

The Fairfield University website states that it is “a unique program that provides four-year, full-cost scholarships to a cohort of students attending Jesuit and Cristo Rey high schools.”

This year, Unis anticipates about twenty students to enroll as Company Scholars. He looks forward to welcoming this diverse group, proving that the institution is “starting to move the needle in the right direction to get us to where we want to be.”

The enrollment of the Class of 2027 will continue to expand Fairfield’s cultural horizons, continuing the pattern of exponential growth the institution has witnessed in recent years. 

The current group of first-year students, the Class of 2026, previously set the record for Fairfield’s largest applicant pool. The Office of Admissions received 13, 358 applications, which resulted in the enrollment of 1,340 students.

In July of 2022, Fairfield News described the Class of 2026 as “the biggest and academically strongest in the University’s eighty-year history.” 

The Class of 2027 is slated to follow in these footsteps.

Steven Bayne, Fairfield’s Secretary of the General Faculty, evaluated the duality that these statistics imply. 

“Of course, I think it’s more complicated than just the numbers, but the record high number of applications combined with the record low acceptance rate would seem to be a good sign for the academic strength of our incoming class,” Bayne stated. 

“We’ve also been told that this is expected to be the most diverse incoming class ever. If we end up with an academically strong and diverse incoming class, all things being equal, that promises to have a beneficial effect on academics at Fairfield. On the other hand, if we once again end up with a record number of students in the incoming class, this would push in the opposite direction and make it more difficult to create the best learning environment.” 

Still, Unis assures that the Office of Admissions has “a pretty good indication that we know what the size of the class will be and it’s well within the norms of what we have been expecting from a growth standpoint.” 

He classified the enrollment management process as “an art and a science.”

“When we make admissions decisions, we run different models with a pretty good scientific aspect,” Unis illustrated. 

Yet, he considered the potential flaws within the process. 

“It’s tough to calibrate the models to incorporate all of that live information constantly,” Unis admitted. “So, we make the best decisions that we have with the information that we have. At the end of the day, seventeen and eighteen-year-olds are really hard to predict.”  

As for applicants grappling with the impending decision deadline on May 1, Unis strongly advises students to visit the campus. 

“It is the number one thing that we try to stress to prospective students, whether they’re local, or whether they’re coming from California or Florida or Chicago,” Unis maintained. “It is a way for them to be able to assess their fit within the community, as well as a way to understand who we are from an academic standpoint and if, socially, this is a place where they can see themselves being successful.” 

On April 2 and April 15, admitted students were invited to visit Fairfield’s campus for the annual “Fairfield in Focus” event. 

According to Unis, “It’s designed for students to be able to meet the dean of the school that they’ve been admitted to and meet faculty from the major that they want to study.” 

Thousands of students attended to immerse themselves in the liveliness of Fairfied’s campus environment. Students could participate in campus tours and explore the Student Life Fair, which showcased the hundred-plus clubs and organizations that animate the student body. 

Olivia Johnson, an incoming first-year student from Massachusetts, testified to the benefits of the event, which reaffirmed her choice to enroll at Fairfield. 

“I knew deep down that I’d be a Stag in the fall, but I waited to hear back from the rest of my schools to make the final decision,” Johnson shared. “I went to the accepted students day [on April 2] and I can confidently say that I am so happy with my choice to be a part of the Fairfield Class of 2027.”

Vinny Rotondo, a Senior Admissions Fellow, reflected on his four years at Fairfield. As his undergraduate journey comes to a triumphant end, Rotondo offered words of wisdom to the next generation of Fairfield students 

“If you ever hear a voice within you say that you cannot achieve something during

your time at Fairfield, challenge yourself to do just that and the voice will be silenced,” Rotondo meditated. “Get involved from the get-go because this is the easiest way to socialize in this new community you are now part of. Challenge yourself to mend a lasting legacy on the institution to a point where you can come back as an alumnus and still have a well-known and respected name. You may only spend four to five years at Fairfield University, but the experiences you make here will be carried with you throughout your life.” 

As the Office of Admissions prepares for the next population of Stags, Unis reiterated Rotondo’s call to the Class of 2027. He illuminated the distinct qualities of Fairfield University that have attracted students and will continue to inform the reputation of the institution. 

“There is a quote from author David Brooks, who talks about schools that prepare you for your resume, and schools that prepare you for your eulogy,” Unis articulated. “Those are the things that Jesuit schools do really well. It’s preparing that student for the wholeness of their life. And, if we didn’t have that, we’d just be another faceless private school, and there’s a lot of those.” 

Head News Editor/Copy Editor Julian Nazario and Editor-in-Chief Thomas Coppola work in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as Tour Ambassadors and thus did not read, edit or have any part in the creation of this article before publication.

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