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College Seeks to Attract Students With New Scholarships

Continuing a trend at Kenyon and nationally, the College will offer five full-tuition and five half-

Editor-In-Chief

Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11

In alignment with a trend at Kenyon and institutions nationwide, the College announced this week new full- and half-tuition scholarships, which will be available to the incoming class of 2017. Five full-tuition and five half-tuition scholarships will be awarded to the “top students in every entering class regardless of financial need,” according to Kenyon’s announcement.

Students must submit their applications for admission by Dec. 15 to be considered for the scholarships, and semifinalists will travel to campus in February to interview with faculty and staff. The College will announce scholarship winners when admission decisions are released in March.

The College is financing the scholarships by reallocating money already designated for financial aid. “That’s actually more of an internal decision about just trying to use our financial aid effectively,” President S. Georgia Nugent said. But Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jennifer Delahunty said she hopes a donor will step forward to endow the scholarship and ensure its continuation.

“We would love to have someone endorse this,” she said, “because there are a lot of people who are interested in having Kenyon win some of these really top kids who are going to go on to lead our country in amazing ways.”

After admitting the class of 2016, Delahunty said the Office of Admissions was concerned that top students from the applicant pool were not accepting Kenyon’s offer of admission and were choosing other schools with more competitive merit aid. “There’s a prestige factor associated with merit scholarships,” she said. “In the merit scholarship wars, if you will, Ohio tends to be ground zero for those because of the many colleges and universities in Ohio. It makes for a challenging recruiting environment.”

Delahunty decided to shift more funds to merit scholarships, hoping to increase the college’s yield — the percentage of admitted students who actually enroll at Kenyon.

“This is kind of different for us to be able to offer these merit scholarships, to really attract students who will not only do extraordinary things here at Kenyon and be real catalysts in the classroom for excellence, but then also go on to win national awards and really reflect positively back on Kenyon,” she said.

Top high school students have more and more attractive options for merit scholarships, according to Delahunty. The University of Virginia’s Jefferson Scholars program awarded 31 full-tuition scholarships to top incoming first years in the class of 2016 — including tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board and personal expenses.

The Ohio State University’s “Eminence” scholarship covers four years of Ohio State costs and offers a $3,000 enrichment stipend available after the first year of study. It is awarded to 25 incoming students. “We’re losing some very top kids to Ohio State with their full scholarship,” Delahunty said.

The larger strategy to attract more students to Kenyon hinges on these scholarships, according to Delahunty. “This sends a huge message to students looking at

Kenyon that Kenyon is accessible financially,” she said. “That’s a residual we get from this — a sense of, ‘Oh my God, I wasn’t going to apply to Kenyon, I was just going to go to Ohio State.’  So it brings more students into the system and gives us better choices for shaping a class.”

Kenyon offers other types of merit aid, but has never offered a full-tuition merit-based scholarship before. Kenyon Honor, Science and Trustee Opportunity

Scholarships were designed to be half-tuition scholarships, but have not kept pace with rising tuition, according to Delahunty. In contrast, the new scholarships will match possible tuition changes from year to year.

Although more and more colleges have been offering merit scholarships — Delahunty said it’s hard for a college to attract students without them — the trend is a step back, according to Nugent.

“I’m very involved nationally in trying to urge colleges to cut back on merit aid, and so I really regret that we end up doing more of it,” Nugent said.

“Even with my fellow presidents who are on the same page as I am and think that merit aid has overall caused more problems than it has solved, even many of us who are trying to bring about a new conversation on that are actually giving more merit aid these days. So I just don’t know how colleges are going to step off of that merry-go-round.”
 

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