Campus welcomes the Class of 2009

When Anna Parks ’09 packed her bags before coming to New Haven, she didn’t expect the help she received when she arrived on campus.

“There was a swarm of people to help us,” Parks said. “It’s a little bit awkward having people I don’t know grabbing my stuff, but it’s a nice perk and I really like it. They’re very efficient and charming.”

Parks’ experience was a familiar one among the 1,323 freshmen slated to arrive in New Haven Friday, with belongings and parents in tow. Hailing from all 50 states and 42 foreign countries, the Class of 2009 — who braved an applicant pool of nearly 20,000 — are part of the most selective class in Yale’s history.

But not every member of the new freshmen class arrived at Yale without a hitch. A group of students participating in the Harvest pre-orientation program left their farmhouse in Old Saybrook two days early because a freshman had lice. The student discovered lice in her hair Wednesday and her group’s trip was cut short. The nine students and two upperclassmen leaders returned to campus Wednesday and spent the rest of the week working at a campus garden, student leader Lizzie Elston ’06 said.

The 671 males and 652 females in the freshman class were admitted from a competitive applicant pool. Just over 70 percent of the students admitted decided to come to Yale, producing one of the highest yield rates in the University’s history.

Academically, the Class of 2009’s median SAT scores are 750 in verbal and 740 in math, said Margit Dahl, the acting dean of undergraduate admissions.

Geographically, the Northeast and the West are the most heavily represented regions of the country, with 35 percent of the class hailing from the Northeast and 22 percent from the West. Thirteen percent of students are from the Midwest, 9 percent are from the South, 9 percent are from outside the United States, 7 percent are from the Southwest and 6 percent are from the Mid-Atlantic, Dahl said.

The class is also the most racially diverse in nearly a decade, with 32.8 percent of students identifying themselves as students of color, Dahl said, up slightly from 32 percent last year. Among the students in this group, 14 percent identified themselves as Asian-American, 9.2 percent African-American, 4.4 percent Mexican-American, 2.2 percent Puerto Rican, 1.9 percent Hispanic and 1 percent Native American.

The freshmen come from diverse educational and socio-economic backgrounds as well. About 55 percent of students attended public schools and 45 percent attended independent, religious and international schools. About 43 percent of freshmen are receiving financial aid from Yale and the University will give an average annual grant of $24,000 to these students. The class is the first to benefit from Yale’s new financial aid policy, under which students from families earning less than $45,000 do not pay a parental contribution and students from families earning between $45,000 and $60,000 pay a reduced parental contribution.

As some freshmen walked through Phelps Gate yesterday afternoon, they seemed excited, even though they were not greeted by flocks of upperclassmen helpers like the students who had arrived earlier in the morning.

Taemin Oh ’09 sported a bright smile when he stepped onto Old Campus for the first time, although he moved in without his parents and was still waiting for his boxes to arrive from California.

“It has that Harry Potter feel, definitely what I was looking for,” Oh said. “Simply put, I love it.”

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