Class of 2013 takes shape

Alexandra Finkel

Graphic design by Olivia Bobrowsky

The May 1 postmark deadline for deposits for Northwestern’s class of 2013 has come and gone. The new class is not only higher-achieving, but also more economically and racially diverse.

Of the 6,864 students who were accepted last month, 2,182 students have submitted a deposit, the university announced Tuesday. The students have a higher average SAT score than the class of 2012 – 1442 compared to the previous high of 1428 last year. Of the enrolled students, 91.5 percent rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class compared to 83.8 percent last year.

Michael Mills, associate provost for university enrollment, said he was “pleased” at the deposit numbers, as it was an “unusual year.”

“Our aid offers were so strong,” he said. “It made the difference in the decisions for a lot of families who may have considered a public university.”

Joyce Smith, chief executive officer of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said this year’s college admissions process was unlike anything she had seen in the past. Across the country, community college and public university enrollment is rising, she said.

“The irony of this year’s process is that there was a wealth of students in the pool of applicants and those that were accepted,” Smith said. “But it’s also one of the most diverse when to comes to financial aid and economic background.”

And NU’s 10 percent increase in financial aid made it possible for NU to attract more needy students, Mills said.

“If you’re an aid recipient, it’s not all that unusual to be paying what a friend might be paying at a state school,” he said.

NU is lucky to be in a stable financial state, so it is still able to offer need-blind admission, Smith said.

“A number of schools have become need-conscious because they can’t fully serve all the families that need aid,” she said.

This year, more students were admitted with Federal Pell Grants, 9.6 percent compared to 5.9 percent last year, and No Loan Pledge scholarships, 5.7 percent compared to 4.5 percent last year.

The class of 2013 is not only more economically diverse.

Mills said he was also satisfied with the results of increased minority admission efforts that netted a 5.5 percent enrollment rate for African-Americans compared to 3.7 percent last year.

“I’m happy for the admissions officers plus the students who worked so many hours to produce that outcome,” he said. “It’s important to say that one good year doesn’t make this any less important in subsequent years.”

Mills attributed the increase to new initiatives like the QuestBridge program as well as increased recruitment from not only the admissions department, but current students and alumni alike. The NU Black Alumni Association President Ce Cole Dillon sent a letter early in the admissions cycle to prospective black students, he said.

“It was a wonderful testament to (Dillon’s) time here and what NU has done for her, and I think that resonated with families,” he said. “We’ve never done anything like that before.”

Associated Student Government President Mike McGee also wrote letters to prospective black students and said he was excited that his work had a positive result.

“My letter was only a drop in the bucket,” the Communication junior said. “Everyone helped, whether students went back to their high schools or wrote letters to get NU’s name out there. There is still a ways to go, but I think students really made a difference this year.”

The percentage of international students increased from 5.2 percent to 6.6 percent.

The percentage of Latino students who sent in their deposits, however, remained stagnant at 6.5 percent.

“We worked equally hard to recruit Latinos to NU,” Mills said. “We admitted slightly more than last year so it was a lower yield. It’s a little disappointing, but it’s still a healthy number of entering Latino students.”

The associate provost added that the admissions office plans to determine how it can improve Latino enrollment in the future.

“We’ll probe all of the data over the summer and maybe tweak recruiting strategies for next year,” he said.

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