Northwestern’s class of 2013 looks promising.
Compared to previous classes, next year’s new students are more racially and economically diverse. They’re smarter, too.
Of the 6,864 students accepted, 2,182 enrolled as of May 1. Last year, 2,023 students accepted admission offers.
“I never want to take for granted that one class is better than the next,” said Associate Provost Michael Mills. “They’re all fabulous.”
This year in particular has seen an increase in black students, international students and lower-income students.
While black students made up 3.7 percent of last year’s deposits — an admissions term used to describe new students before they officially matriculate by coming to campus — that number rose to 5.6 percent this year. International deposits rose from 5.2 percent to 6.6 percent. Latino enrollment matched last year’s 6.5 percent.
The number of low-income students with federal Pell Grants also jumped, from 5.9 percent in 2008 to 9.6 percent in 2009. Pledge scholars, or students whose financial aid packages include grants instead of loans, comprise 5.7 percent of the class, versus 4.5 percent last year.
“I think that we made a bigger push for all types of students who have been historically underrepresented,” Mills said.
Mills attributed the work of the admissions office with groups like Northwestern University Black Alumni Association, For Members Only and the Freshman Advisory Board for the leap in African American enrollment. The groups worked together to reach out to potential students and their parents, and also targeted students in the Chicago Public School system.
“We’re happy with where we finished with African American and Latino students,” he said. “So many people were disappointed last year.” He noted that even higher numbers are something to aim for next year.
This was also the first year that Northwestern partnered with QuestBridge, a program that pairs talented low-income students with the nation’s top schools. Mills said this also helped.
Additionally, Northwestern increased its overall financial aid, and the admissions office worked to appeal to low-income students. For example, the admissions office sponsored a program for high school counselors in schools that serve low-income students.
“We were able to go out and make really strong financial aid offers,” Mills said.
Mills said that the admissions office will continue its minority and low-income recruiting efforts next year as well.
“We want it all,” he said. “We want the smartest, most diverse, most interesting freshman class that we can assemble.”
As in past years, the class of 2013 also distinguished itself with its academic skills, as 91.5 percent of students were in the top 10 percent of their class, compared to 83.8 percent last year. Additionally, the average combined math and verbal SAT score jumped from 1428.2 to 1442.1.
Since more students enrolled than last year, Mills said if students are taken from the waiting list, there will not be many. Although 2,182 students enrolled, that number typically drops slightly over the summer, referred to as the “summer melt,” Mills said.
Regardless, Northwestern has a “more complete class” to look forward to, he said.