May 25, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 17

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    Class of 2004 is diverse, has top academic credentials

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    As students in the Class of 2000 prepare for convocation exercises, the incoming Class of 2004 is just beginning to pursue the life of the mind, Chicago-style. The New Students Office has sent its first orientation missive and the Office of College Admissions is finalizing the class data with only a handful of deferments and wait-list acceptances to go.

    “This is the second incoming class to reflect the impact of our new mailings, publications and expanded on-campus programs. We have continued to see dramatic increases in the number of the very strongest students enrolling,” said Michael Behnke, Vice President and Dean of College Enrollment.

    The Class of 2004 continues the recent upswing of students who score in the top-tier SAT range of 1500 to 1600. According to Ted O’Neill, Dean of College Admissions, the number of incoming students who are in the top 5 percent of their high school classes has increased by another 38 percent, which is an 80 percent increase in the past two years. Overall, 63 percent of the students who reported rank are in the top 5 percent of their classes and 81 percent are in the top 10 percent.

    The Office of College Admissions selected these students from an outstanding applicant pool, not only for their excellent academic standings, but also because they are good fits with Chicago, said O’Neill.

    But identifying them seems more an art than a science. O’Neill said admissions officers also pay close attention to how students answer questions in interviews and in their essays. O’Neill said that information, coupled with how high school teachers describe their students, helps determine an applicant’s fit.

    “I think even after a week of reading, even after only one quarter on campus, a new assistant director in admissions can get a feeling for the students who think a little more deeply, who are less settled by the expected answers, who are a little less willing to go along with the big crowd toward whatever counts as safe and acceptable ‘success’ for most of their peers,” said O’Neill.

    And while these newest students are of the highest academic standing, they will bring some notable changes to the College as well.

    “This year, we are delighted to see substantial increases in the numbers of students of color and international students,” Behnke said. The enrollment of African-American students has increased by 51 percent compared to last year’s incoming class. Likewise, Hispanic or Latino student enrollment has increased by 55 percent. The number of international students has increased by 27 percent. And although the numbers are not final, a class of 1,012 students is expected.

    While the majority of students come from the Midwest and Middle States, Chicago continues to lure first-years from the West, with a 22 percent increase this year. The number of students from overseas has increased by 57 percent.

    The breakdown between women and men is nearly identical to last year, with 51.4 percent and 48.6 percent respectively.

    Taking all of their statistics into account, what will define this new class is yet to be seen. “The personality of the class is shaped more by the experiences of the students once they get here than by who they are when they arrive. They are, and always have been, exceedingly talented and smart,” O’Neill said.

    “The thing most people, even some very close to home, believe is not possible––that students who think this way can be otherwise talented or interesting––is proven wrong year after year. My sense is that this class has as many talented musicians, artists, athletes and volunteers as any previous class, and their talents and energies will be exercised on a campus even more willing to appreciate and nurture their various enthusiasms,” O’Neill added.