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Middlebury College Class of 2024 Takes Shape during Pandemic

May 12, 2020


MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – A total of 750 students have accepted offers of admission to the Middlebury College Class of 2024. Currently 640 students plan to enroll in September and 110 in February. 

“This year we faced a new and very unusual challenge: How do we build a class during a pandemic?” said Nicole Curvin, Middlebury’s dean of admissions. Curvin, who was Middlebury’s director of admissions before becoming its dean in July 2019, noted that colleges have faced difficulties before, including the 2003 SARS outbreak and the 2008 recession, but nothing this pervasive.

“We always reach out to our admitted students and their families virtually, but this year the crisis prompted us to rely on these efforts almost exclusively,” said Curvin. “We learned that we actually connected with more people through our online activities since many students, parents, grandparents, and guardians can’t attend our annual on-campus Preview Days event, but can participate in an online webinar or panel. 

“The other challenge was to ramp up our digital efforts quickly and creatively,” said Curvin, who worked remotely, as did Admissions colleagues and others at Middlebury to reach admitted students numerous ways, from matching them with current students to hosting “meet and mingle” events on the video chat software Icebreakers. 

Admitted students also had the opportunity to engage directly with staff and faculty from Middlebury’s three Experiential Learning Centers. Many admitted students filled out a survey on aspects of the College they wanted to learn more about after receiving texts from Middlebury. A new website for admitted students offers video FAQs with current students and faculty.

As of May 1, students of color represent 30 percent of the incoming class. The percentage of first-generation students, or students who are the first in their families to attend college, is 15 percent, and 11 percent are international students. Those receiving Pell Grants represent 18.9 percent of the students. Members of the class are from 44 states, Washington, D.C., and 54 countries. 

The pandemic has caused uncertainty during this admissions season, but one element remains constant: Middlebury’s newest class brings with it a host of interests and skills. One student helped organize a project to beautify storm drains in California, while another is a theater set designer who built her dog a wheelchair. Among the class is the creator of a new game called Ockball, a mix of half-court basketball and handball with a hint of rugby, and a certified nurse assistant in a hospital oncology unit. There is also a student who helps print 3-D prosthetic arms and a member of the class who has published vignettes of their great-grandfather’s life as a political prisoner. 

The College will award approximately $16.6 million in financial aid to about 51 percent of the incoming class with an average annual grant of roughly $51,378. The amount of aid varies from year to year—it was 41 percent last year—in part because Middlebury is a need-blind institution. 

Given the COVID-19 crisis and potential changes in students’ plans, the Admissions staff continues to shape the Class of 2024 as it monitors deferral requests and issues surrounding the availability of student visas and other topics.

“We will also work collaboratively with the Student Life Office and the Orientation staff to stay in touch with members of the Class of 2024 during the coming months,” said Curvin. “They are the newest members of the Middlebury College community and we want make sure they feel a part of it. It is also a challenging time and we want to be supportive of our students and their families.”