Keeping in step with last year’s trend rising applicants and selectivity, total applications went up six percent and selectivity rose to 20.5 percent for the incoming freshmen class according to the Class of 2014 Profile released earlier this week by the Office of Admission. However unlike last year, the freshman class includes fewer students from the northeast—the region that usually draws the highest percentage of Wesleyan students, a larger ratio of females to males, and higher number of Early Decision (ED) matriculates.
Although this year’s increases are not as dramatic as the 22 percent rise in applications from 2008 to 2009 and the 5 percent rise in selectivity over that same period, they reflect a growing trend for colleges and universities across the country.
The class of 2014 enters the University as one of the most geographically diverse classes ever. The percentage of incoming students from New England or the Mid-Atlantic region this year is 54 percent, compared to 59 percent for the class of 2013 and 63 percent for the recently graduated class of 2010.
Although the class of 2014 includes greater geographic diversity among students from the United States, the percentage of international students stayed steady at seven percent for the second year in a row.
“There are a lot more students here nowadays from the far west and also a very good representation of students who either live outside the United States or are foreign nationals/international students,” said Greg Pyke, Senior Associate Dean of Admissions. “That’s something that we are quite proud of and work at and would like to see continue to grow, but I think it’s already at a pretty strong level of representation.”
The class of 2014 official profile lists 55 percent of the class of 2014 as women and 45 percent as men, compared to 53 percent and 47 percent for 2013, respectively. According to Pyke, the Office of Admission receives more applications from women than men but generally ends up with a gender ratio around 50-50, unlike some other liberal arts colleges with considerably larger ratios of females to males.
“That’s what we aim for but we don’t manipulate that to be exactly 50-50 or to be the same every year,” he said.
Thirty-four percent of students in the class of 2014 are students of color, compared to 35 percent for the class of 2013. Fifteen percent of the class identified themselves as Asian/Asian-American, 9 percent as Black/African-American, 9 percent as Latino/Hispanic and 0.4 percent as Native American/Alaskan Native.
The percentage of the class of 2014 that applied ED increased to 48 percent, up from 46 percent for the class of 2013 and 40 percent for the class of 2012.
According to Pyke, this trend reflects a higher number of ED applications and an increase in their quality. He contended that the increase has been due to the University becoming increasingly well-known and to the University’s commitment to meet all financial need for students whether they apply ED or Regular Decision. If a student applies ED but finds that their financial aid award does not make attending the University affordable, then they are no longer obligated to commit to attending, which only occurs for about one student per year.
“I know that the economy and the uncertainty that people feel about their future keeps a lot of people from making Early Decision commitments to college anywhere, but Wesleyan has done better than a lot of the ED schools at continuing to attract a good pool of socioeconomic diversity within the Early Decision pool as well,” Pyke said.
Beginning with the class of 2013, the University has offered enrollment to about 15 QuestBridge students per year, who are included within the ED numbers, according to Pyke. These students generally come from lower income families, are frequently the first generation in their family to attend college and are matched with schools through the QuestBridge non-profit organization.
Additionally this year, 41 percent of incoming students are receiving financial aid grants, which is consistent with recent years said Pyke. The class of 2014 features a lower ratio of the percentage of children of Wesleyan alumni (6 percent of the class of 2014) compared to the percentage of incoming students who are the first generation in their family to attend to a four-year college (14 percent).
“For a school that’s very expensive and very prestigious and thought of as one of the top ‘x’ number of colleges or universities in the United States to have that kind of socioeconomic diversity I think is really important and something worth talking about,” he said.
Academic statistics for the class of 2014 are similar to previous class years, with 68 percent of matriculates being in the top 10 percent of their high school class, an ACT median score of 32 and SAT median scores of 700 for critical reading and math and 710 for writing.
“I think Wesleyan does a remarkable job of bringing together the kids who we want to be here that we think will really use the place well and also having the kind of hard evidence of really, really strong student bodies,” Pyke said.