Class of 2011 is most diverse class to date

The most racially diverse class in Yale’s history will arrive on campus today, as members of the Class of 2011 haul everything from shower shoes to intricately prepared shopping period schedules through Phelps Gate.

At 70.6 percent, Yale’s yield stayed above 70 percent for the third straight year, with 1,322 of the 1,911 admitted students planning to matriculate as of yesterday, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said. The incoming freshmen — who hail from all 50 states and include citizens of 44 countries — were selected from a pool of more than 19,000 applicants, for a final admission rate of 9.9 percent.

With 35.4 percent of students identifying themselves as American students of color, 2011 is the University’s most diverse class ever.

Brenzel said he was surprised by this year’s high yield, since the admissions office had made efforts to admit larger proportions of students interested in science and engineering, minority students and low-income students. These groups are subject to fierce competition between colleges and typically have lower yields than the average for the class as a whole, he said. In addition, fewer students who were deferred in the early round were ultimately accepted due to a strong regular decision pool, and Brenzel said this factor had also been expected to decrease the yield from last year’s 70.9 percent.

“Assembling the class we want is a far greater priority for us than yield percentages, but it was terrific to see yield stay above 70 percent,” he said. “I give the credit to our superb team of admissions officers and student recruiters, who yielded a record percentage of minority students and a record percentage of the students we admitted in the regular decision process.”

The percentage of students who self-identify as American students of color for the Class of 2011 exceeds last year’s 31.1 percent and the prior record of 32.9 percent for the Class of 2009. Among these students, 15.4 percent of the class is Asian-American, 10.0 percent are Hispanic, 8.7 percent are African-American and 1.3 percent are Native Americans. The percentages of Asian-American and Hispanic students both increased significantly from last year.

The gender balance of the class — 659 males and 663 females — is virtually even, Brenzel said.

Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi indicated that the Class of 2011 is also a more economically diverse group than before. The percentage of freshmen who will receive financial aid from Yale increased from 41.9 percent to 44 percent. Yale will give these students an average annual scholarship grant of $28,200, a 5 percent increase over last year’s average of $26,900, he said.

In spite of an overall national drop in standardized test scores this year, the incoming class’s SAT scores were identical to last year’s figures, with the median SAT verbal score staying at 750, the median SAT math score at 740 and the median SAT writing score at 740, Brenzel said. The percent of students who attended public schools increased slightly from last year to 55.6 percent, and 44.4 percent attended independent, religious and international schools.

As is typical, the majority of admitted students from the United States come from the Northeast — home to 36.3 percent of the class — or the West, which is home to 17.6 percent of the class. About 10 percent of the class resides outside the United States.

The freshmen arriving on Old Campus on Thursday, most of whom had parents in tow, exhibited both the excitement and nerves that typically accompany the transition from high school to college life.

Catherine Schroeder ’11 said she is looking forward to complementing her economics and mathematics studies with theater activities, most likely through the Yale Dramat. Although a still-blank shopping period schedule weighs heavily on her mind, she said she expects to settle in well once she has done more Blue-booking.

“I haven’t really figured out which classes I’m taking, so once I’ve figured that out, most of my nervousness will be gone,” Schroeder said.

Cristina Costantini ’11, who was in the process of moving into her princess suite in Welch, said she hopes to participate in a number of extracurricular activities, including community service, Latin dance and political groups.

“I’m excited about picking out my classes, the opportunity to explore my own set of interests in school, and taking advantage of all the opportunities Yale has to offer,” she said.

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