For many Furman students, the specter of a high acceptance rate inspires irrational, unjustifiable fear. Although the acceptance rate cannot be officially calculated until after students have committed to Furman later this spring, the university received a lower number of applications than anticipated. This basically guarantees that to meet benchmarks for the number of incoming students, the university will admit a larger percentage of applicants. Continuing a trend in recent years, the acceptance rate will likely be high.
The issue of the acceptance rate raises much more than petty and ungrounded concerns about exclusivity and perceived elitism. Instead, the inability to draw applicants (and more importantly, convince the best of those applicants to attend Furman) stems from our inability as a university to communicate why these applicants should be interested in a Furman education. What makes Furman different? What makes Furman special? What makes Furman worth four years and nearly a quarter of a million dollars? On one hand, this is a question for the Marketing and Admissions departments — how do we communicate to prospective students that Furman would appeal to their specific interests and help them achieve their goals — but it is also our collective responsibility insofar as we must shape a Furman identity to promote to others, to give content to the communicated message.
Instead of bemoaning the high acceptance rate or lamenting a decrease in Furman’s educational value, we need to create answers to these questions and make the Furman experience more valuable, a solution to which every student, professor, staff member, and alumnus can contribute. This kind of response addresses the deeper problems that cause Furman’s high acceptance, instead of merely reacting against a statistic that the general Furman community finds to be distasteful.