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Let's Hear it for the Class of 2017

Newly formed class is strongest in Northwestern’s history and sets diversity record

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May 14, 2013 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The deposits are in, the commitments have been made and Northwestern University’s newly formed Class of 2017 set new records both for its academic strength and its racial and ethnic diversity.

The approximately 2,025 students expected to make up the Class of 2017 when school begins in the fall made the final cut after the University sorted through a record high number of applications, 32,772. This resulted in the lowest admit rate ever -- 13.9 percent.

By standard academic measures, the Class of 2017 is the strongest in Northwestern’s history.  Ninety-one percent of incoming freshmen ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and the so-called “middle 50 percent” SAT score is 1390 to 1550 (meaning one-half of the class scored within this range, while one-quarter scored below and above the range, respectively).

A record 20 percent of deposits are from African-American or Hispanic students, shattering the previous record of 16.7 percent set just last year. Adding Asian-American students (19 percent) and international students (9 percent) to the tally results in a class that consists of nearly 50 percent non-majority students.

And in one of the most important measures of the University’s rising reputation, the yield rate, or proportion of admitted students choosing Northwestern, rose to 45.3 percent from 41.5 percent last year. The yield was less than 31 percent only five years ago.   

The class reflects the University’s strong commitment to diversity, an integral part of Northwestern’s strategic plan. Increasing diversity and providing an optimal environment for every member of the community are central to the University’s ambitions for its future. 

Ninety-five students from the incoming class applied to Northwestern through QuestBridge, a national program that helps high-achieving, low-income students apply to top universities. This year’s class also includes Northwestern’s first group of Posse Scholars. Ten incoming students from Los Angeles were identified by the Posse Foundation, which focuses on promising young students from disadvantaged urban backgrounds. 

Fourteen percent of the Class of 2017 received Pell Grants, and a record number attended either Evanston Township High School or a Chicago Public School.

Domestic students in the Class of 2017 came from 48 states, led by Illinois, California, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Florida.  

International students came from 40 different countries, led by China, South Korea, India and Turkey. They also hailed from countries such as Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Iceland, New Zealand, Honduras, Ukraine, Tanzania, Zambia, Norway, Austria and Guatemala.  

Northwestern increasingly is being recognized nationally and internationally for the excellence of its students and its highly diverse education offered inside and outside the classroom. The education crosses disciplines, continents and 12 schools and programs, on campuses in Evanston, Chicago and Doha, Qatar.

“Northwestern truly takes a whole-brain approach to learning and is uniquely structured to promote that way of learning through six strong undergraduate schools and extensive cross-school collaboration between faculty and students,” stressed Michael Mills, associate provost for University enrollment.

“It’s not unusual here, for example, for a student with exemplary math skills to play an instrument exquisitely or to act in high-level performances or produce documentaries on the issues of the day,” he said.

Sixty-five percent of Northwestern students graduate with more than one major -- with a double major or a major, minor and a certificate or various other combinations of studies -- sometimes in completely different fields.

Applied learning is a hallmark of a Northwestern education, and a majority of students are engaged in outside opportunities that enhance the classroom experience, including internships, co-ops, research abroad and civic engagement.

Northwestern students, as well as their professors, are winning major research prizes. The research opportunities are plentiful, whether students work with a professor in a science lab on campus or in countries all over the globe. Students combine studies to conduct serious research in the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, journalism, the arts, humanities and performance.

For the eighth year in a row, Northwestern is among the top 10 producers of U.S. Fulbright grant recipients at the nation's research institutions, according to a ranking published Oct. 24, 2012, in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Northwestern Fulbright winners currently teach, conduct research or study in countries around the world, representing every Northwestern undergraduate school as well as the law and medical schools.

And Northwestern graduates work at the highest echelons of business and technology; produce, direct, write and perform for film and on major stages; use their journalistic skills to produce the most important stories of our day; break Olympic records for their extraordinary athletic skills; and provide political and humanitarian leadership throughout the world.

Topics: University