May 1 is decision day, the deadline for regular decision applicants to commit to college and the day that Occidental’s Class of 2023 will be finalized. The college hosted two “Experience Occidental” events April 12 and 19 to help admitted students make their college decision. This year, Occidental received 7,500 applications — the most in history — and the Class of 2023 is the most selective cohort yet, according to Vice President of Enrollment and Dean of Admission Vince Cuseo.
Neah Bois (senior), an admission office tour guide, has been leading campus tours for admitted students for four years. Bois said admitted students show a high level of knowledge about Occidental and often ask specific questions during tours.
“When they’re admitted students, they ask a lot of pointed questions like, ‘[What] is it actually like to live in a residence hall?’” Bois said. “They know what kind of program they might be interested in here, so you get a lot more questions like, ‘I want to know more about MAC,’ compared to more generic questions.”
Bois said these campus tours and “Experience Occidental” events often help prospective students clear up their uncertainties about the school and make them more interested in coming to Occidental. Bois believes the events play a particularly important role in immersing students in a realistic college experience.
“It allows students to come onto campus, go to a class they want, talk to current students, possible athletes can meet the coaches and the team,” Bois said. “After they come here they realize, ‘Oh yeah, this is where I want to be.’”
Jordan Walker (sophomore) is a tour guide coordinator at the admissions office. He said that in addition to interacting with incoming students, he also speaks to their parents. Parents are normally more interested in what career and postgraduate guidance Occidental offers to their children, according to Walker.
“Parents ask questions about how can a liberal arts experience serve them beyond being at Oxy. Sometimes parents are concerned with big state schools — everyone knows the name — versus a small, liberal arts school where not everyone knows the name,” Walker said.
Such differences in recognition between Occidental and other larger institutions can affect students’ final choices, according to Cuseo. Cuseo said the University of California admission system can have an impact on Occidental’s enrollment.
“Four years ago, one of the University of California [schools] decided to admit more students. They had 7,500 more students actually enroll at the University of California sites,” Cuseo said. “We didn’t meet our enrollment target, so one admittedly large branch of universities within the United States … if they change their policies in any given year, it can have an impact enrolling in Occidental, even if we’re doing our very best.”
Nathan Sachs ’23 is a member of the incoming class and recently committed to Occidental. A native of Tacoma, WA, Sachs said the Kahane UN Program, the location, undergraduate research programs, a strong economics department and good food are all reasons why he finally chose Occidental among other colleges. Sachs said his experiences visiting the campus reassured him of his choice.
“It’s basically what I see when I envision a college campus,” Sachs said. “All the buildings around the quad, and it’s nice and warm, there’s a grassy area and … the people at Oxy, they seemed less stressed and more relaxed and they were having more fun than the other colleges that I’ve visited.”
Occidental reaches out to prospective high schoolers 18 to 24 months before they enter college, according to Cuseo. He adds that if these students have formally declared their interest at Occidental, then the admissions office can communicate with them through emails, social media and print material.
Cuseo said students can apply and commit to Occidental at different times, either as Early Decision I or II (ED), Regular Decision (RD) or as a transfer. According to Cuseo, the office has different admission events during these times in order to account for their corresponding timelines. Walker said ED students need to visit campus at a much earlier date than RD students because of their shorter decision timeframe.
According to Cuseo, admission staff devised new strategies to make admission events more appealing and useful to prospective students. Cuseo said that in recent years, parents of current students have reached out to parents of incoming students to answer any questions and share experiences. Bois said this year there is a new senior comprehensives panel to enable incoming students to understand what they will have to do after four years of academic training.
The admission office’s target for the Class of 2023 is 550 students, and RD prospective students will have until the end of May 1 to file their commitment deposit.