Enrolled class more diverse, higher achieving

Matt Spector

Posted Oct. 16, 2:15 p.m.

The enrolled class for fall 2009 is more diverse and higher achieving than last year’s class, according to statistics released Friday by Michael Mills, the associate provost for university enrollment. The university was also relatively less selective than last year, admitting 27 percent of applicants versus 26.2 percent of applicants last year.

The university initally admitted more students this year because they were concerned about students’ ability to pay, Mills wrote in an e-mail.

“Many private colleges and universities did the same thing for the same reason,” he wrote.

This year marked a small yet significant increase in minority student enrollment. The enrollment of African American students increased from 87 to 132 students. The enrollment of Hispanic students also increased by 5 students from last year’s 135.

Mills attributed these increases to a variety of factors: joining QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that facilitates the college matching process for low-income, high achieving students, as well as waiving application fees for Chicago Public School students and hosting on-campus events for under-represented students and their high school counselors.

The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs held a weekend for minority prospective students last spring, including an FMO-sponsored concert by R&B artist Solange Knowles for which 300 tickets were reserved for black prospective students and their student hosts (“Solange Knowles performs for students, prospies in Norris,” April 20).

In addition, the university enrolled 45 more students than last year. Mills wrote there was “more than enough capacity in residence halls to accommodate the larger class.”

The accademic departments really stepped up and added more slots to freshmen-level course levels,” he added.

This class’s average SAT score also improved by 10 points, from 1429 to 1439. While last year’s class had a total of 85 percent of students in the top ten percent of their class, the fall 2009 class was higher achieving by comparison, with 90 percent of students in the top decile.

Mills wrote the higher-achieving class represents increased recognition of NU as “one of the best universities in the world.”

“We have many features that top students find appealing, and word is spreading,” Mills wrote.

This class also marked 60 more “No Loan” Pledge Scholars and 124 more Pell Grant recipients than last year’s class.

The No-Loan Pledge Scholarship is awarded to students who show “the greatest financial need” and can graduate from NU without having to borrow need-based loans, according to the undergraduate financial aid office. The Pell grants are a federal student financial aid program, and the awarding of the grants is based on financial information, the cost of attendance at the institution and other factors.

According to Mills, NU has increased financial aid by 10 percent each year for the past three years.

“I’m really proud that Northwestern stepped up and funded financial aid so generously this year,” Mills wrote. “In a year when endowments across the country took huge hits, this says a lot about Northwestern’s institutional values.”

More to come.

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