An Inside Look at the Small Senior Class

When the class of 2018 gathered for the first time on “Move-In Day,” something was different. The group was smaller than previous senior classes and there were fewer new faces.

This year’s twelfth graders have entered Northwood as the smallest graduating class in decades. With only 43 students, this class is much smaller than the class of 2017, which had 60. The overall population of the school is nearly identical to last year. Other classes are larger; only the senior class has shrunk.

Students are asking: why such a small class?

Mr. Evan Nielsen, Associate Director of Admission & Director of Financial Aid and Mr. Brad D’Arco, Director of Admissions shared the inside scoop on why the senior class is smaller than usual.


Mr. Evan Nielsen, Associate Director of Admission & Director of Financial Aid. Photo: Alec Herman

“There’s no set goal [for senior class size] in the admission office,” Mr. Nielsen said. “We like a smaller senior class. Historically ,when we looked at the sizes Northwood classes, we felt that they were skewed a little too large in the 11th and 12th grade.”

The admission office wanted to bring a little bit more equilibrium between the classes. Historically,k it’s been common to have senior classes three times as large as the ninth grade, and that’s not healthy or sustainable from an enrollment management perspective.

Northwood has also gotten significantly more selective. The acceptance rate has dropped to 38%, nearly half of what it was just two years ago. The admissions office is making sure they are admitting and enrolling students that contribute the school community.

Mr. Nielsen also noted that Northwood was not admitting a large amount of post-graduate students. “This year, when you look at the senior class,” he said, “I think we have three postgraduate students and a couple of new seniors, which is significantly smaller than in our past.”

“The PG year or the one-year senior can be a useful option for some students, but we don’t want that number of one year seniors/PG’s to be too large.”


Mr. Brad D’Arco, Director of Admissions. Photo: Alec Herman

“Northwood used to consistently have 10-15 new members of the senior class between 12th graders and post graduates,” Mr. D’Arco added. Now, since the school has added some new programs, we wanted to try and balance the overall makeup of the school and create a strong and sizeable ninth grade class.”

D’Arco noted that “typically freshman classes were somewhere in between 15-18 students and we had 12-15 postgraduates. We just took those 12-15 PGs we normally enrolled, and moved those students into the ninth grade class. So that led us to have three or four postgraduates. That’s why the [senior] class is smaller.”

The admission office plans to grow the student body to close to 180 students in the next few years. Mr. D’Arco concludes that, “in the future, we are going to have a more consistent size of our senior class, as much as we can control. Some of it is beyond our control,” he added cautiously.



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