Durham Academy opened the 2015-2016 school year with 1,185 students, topping last year’s 1,183 opening day enrollment, which was also DA’s largest-ever. It was an unprecedented year for admissions: DA has reached a record enrollment, yet enrolled fewer new students, 143, than the 167 new students in 2014-2015.
Admissions Director Victoria Muradi said fewer current students left DA, meaning fewer spots were available for new enrollees. “Our attrition rate was 4 percent, which is among the lowest in DA history,” she said. DA’s 4 percent attrition is also low compared with attrition among peer schools nationwide.
“That was positive news for us, but not for our applicants,” Muradi said. “We made really tough choices during the admissions process.”
Applications were up 3 percent this year at DA, bucking a national trend that showed applications to independent day schools were down by 2 percent.
Overall, 39 percent of applicants were admitted to DA for 2015-2016, but some grade levels had admission rates in the single digits.
The new school year brings DA’s most diverse enrollment, with students of color representing 32 percent of the student body. “The percentage increase is on par with recent years, inching up about 1 to 2 percent per year,” Muradi said. “Diversity, in all forms, is something we continue to work on.”
DA’s geographic diversity is also increasing. Families are driving from Wake Forest, Henderson and Elon, with larger numbers of new students living outside Durham and Chapel Hill. “The biggest growth is in Wake County,” Muradi said. Overall, DA’s student body draws 58 percent from Durham, 30 percent from Chapel Hill, 7 percent from Wake County and 5 percent from surrounding areas.
The Admissions Office is already working on the 2016-2017 admissions season, with two tour and information sessions scheduled in November and December for each school division. Interested families can visit at www.da.org/tours.