The New York Times recently recognized DePauw University as one of the most economically diverse top colleges in the nation. Among other schools that have a four-year graduation rate of 75 percent or higher, DePauw came in 21st.
Vassar Collegewas first, with Occidental College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology next to DePauw in 20th and 22nd place respectively.
“There are a couple of programs that DePauw has been associated with for a very long time that contributes to the socio-economic diversity of the student body,” said Cindy Babington, vice president for admission and financial aid.
She referenced the Posse and the Bonner Scholar Program.
“The Posse Program seeks out leaders (20 per year) who may have been missed by the traditional college search process – and often these are students from lower socio-economic backgrounds,” she said.
The Bonner Scholar Program, which also aims for about 20 students per year, seeks out students who actively participate in community service and have a financial need.
The Times “combined data on enrollment and tuition costs to measure how hard each college is trying to attract and graduate poor and middle-class students.” The result is a list of the most “economically diverse” top colleges in the nation.
The article, written by David Leonhardt, discussed the importance of recruiting lower and middle-income students.
“These colleges have changed policies and made compromises elsewhere to recruit the kind of talented poor students who have traditionally excelled in high school but not gone to top colleges,” Leonhardt wrote. He highlighted the importance of recruiting these students and providing the resources for them to pay for school.
Babington noted the role financial aid plays in economic diversity at DePauw.
“Financial aid based on need is exceptionally important in providing access to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds,” she said.
However, when asked about how some of the changes in merit aid requirements would affect DePauw’s economic diversity, she said she did not foresee an issue. Merit aid is not based on financial need, Babington explained, and is based on academic achievement.
“Based on the number and amount of scholarships given, it’s easy to have a more diverse school,” senior Caitlin Hutchinson said.
Every year, different publications and organizations release lists ranking schools based on everything from partying to academics, and DePauw is usually on several. The administration has, in the past, stressed that these lists are not always indicative of the student experience.
“I'm not a big fan of rankings period, but being high on this particular list demonstrates that DePauw cares about socio-economic diversity,” Babington said. “I think that's a good thing.”
Students interviewed agreed.
“It’s more positive than some of the other publicity we do get,” senior Laura Drew said. “It’s a ranking I’d rather be on, as opposed to some other rankings.”