Meet the freshmen

Yale’s 1,307 incoming freshmen have not only surmounted the toughest odds in the College’s admissions history, but together, they also represent one of the most ethnically and economically diverse classes ever to arrive on campus.

The members of the class of 2013, who hail from 48 states and 39 countries, were selected from a pool of 26,003 applicants, reflecting a record-low admit rate of 7.5 percent. Yale is also providing more scholarships to freshmen than ever before, with nearly three out of every five freshmen receiving need-based financial aid from the University.

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Yale’s freshmen represent the second-most ethnically diverse class in the University’s history. A total of 34.8 percent of freshmen self-identified as students of color, a figure surpassed only by the freshman class of 2011, with 35.4 percent students of color.

According to Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel, the yield rate held relatively steady this year at 67.8 percent, compared to 68.7 percent last year. Brenzel said he had expected the yield to fall further than it did, given that Yale accepted 143 fewer students through its early admissions process compared to last year. Students admitted early typically matriculate at higher rates.

In previous years, Yale’s yield rate had hovered around 70 percent, but after Harvard and Princeton universities eliminated their early admissions policies, the number of students cross-admitted by these schools increased. With more students receiving offers from more than one of these schools, Brenzel said yield would naturally drop slightly.

Yale admitted a total of seven students from its wait-list this year, Brenzel said.

The proportion of female to male applicants remained nearly identical to last year, Brenzel said. A total of 54.9 percent of applicants to the class of 2013 were female, compared to 55.0 percent the previous year, Brenzel said. While the proportion of female to male applicants increasingly diverged in recent years, Brenzel noted that this year bucked the trend, albeit only slightly. The number of female and male matriculants was nearly even, with 652 females and 655 males in the freshman class.

In the class of 2013, 59.4 percent of students are receiving some form of need-based financial aid, University Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said. Storlazzi attributed this rise both to Yale’s ability to attract more low-income students and to the flagging economy, which has left more families in need.

In the class of 2013, 12.2 percent of students qualified for Pell grants, compared to 12.3 percent of students in the class of 2012 and 10.8 percent in the class of 2011. Last year, 55.9 percent of freshmen in the class of 2012 received financial aid. This represented an 11.6 percentage point increase compared to the freshmen in the class of 2011 the previous year, thanks to the major expansion of Yale’s financial aid program in 2008.

Yale’s expenditures on scholarships for the class of 2013 rose to an estimated $26.5 million, compared to $24.2 million the previous year, Storlazzi said. The average Yale scholarship grant rose to $34,311 from $32,949 last year. This increase in grant funding helps cover the rising costs of attending Yale, Storlazzi said.

This year’s financial aid budget will come in at around $97 million, Storlazzi said, compared to the final $92 million budget last year. This estimate includes funding for International Summer Awards, which are one-time scholarships given to students on financial aid for summer travel abroad.

Among the 34.8 percent of non-international students who identify as people of color, 15.5 percent are Asian-American, 8.3 percent are African-American, 8.3 are Hispanic and 2.7 percent are Native American. Compared to last year, the percentages of African-American and Hispanic matriculants decreased by 1.1 and 1.0 percentage points respectively, while the percentage of Asian-American matriculants rose by 1.7 percentage points compared to last year. The percentage of Native American students in the class of 2013 increased nearly three-fold compared to last year, when 0.7 percent of the incoming class was composed of Native American students.

Liz Reese ’11, from Nambé Pueblo, New Mexico, said she believes the rise in Native American matriculants reflects Yale’s commitment to welcoming Native students. She added that while resources like a deanship, a house and a Native studies program once seemed unattainable, the University has moved “leaps and bounds toward making Yale a better place for Native students.”

The freshman class’s median SAT scores rose slightly compared to last year, Brenzel said. Members of the class of 2013 achieved median scores of 750 on all three sections of the SAT, whereas the class of 2012 received median scores of 740 on the math and writing sections and 750 on the verbal section. The percentage of freshmen from public schools increased slightly compared to last year, to 56.9 percent, while the rest attended independent, religious and international schools or were home-schooled.

Continuing past trends, the best-represented geographic areas among the freshman class include the Northeast, which serves as home to 34.4 percent of the class, and the West, home to 18.4 percent of the class. The proportion of international students in the class stands at about 11 percent.

The admissions cycle for the class of 2013 was the most competitive ever, with 13.4 percent of students admitted early and 5.4 percent of students initially admitted regular decision.


  • Observer

    I believe you have miscalculated the yield rate.

    If there were 1,958 admits (counting 7 from the waitlist,) and 1,307 have shown up this fall as members of the Class of 2013, then the actual yield rate is 66.75% is it not?

  • Yale ’00

    I’m sure all those right-wingers who decry affirmative action will be leaping to their feat to attack Yale’s (in my view quite sensible) practice of using a bit of affirmative action for men to keep the gender ratio around 50:50.

    Make no mistake: If Yale’s applicants match national trends at elite universities, the women are slightly more qualified than the men, and there are significantly more of them (54.9%), so the way to get to 50:50 every year is through a soft quota system aimed at approximately equal numbers.

    I think this is good policy. But I think men who get all self-righteous about affirmative action need to decide what they think about cases where the shoe is on the other foot. (If you don’t believe Yale is such a case because you just wanna believe the male applicants here are more qualified, then take a look at any of the many liberal arts colleges whose situations are much more extreme than Yale’s in their skew: way more female applicants who are way more qualified than the male ones; the colleges use affirmative action to balance out the gender ratio somewhat.)

  • @00

    You don’t have to be right-wing to decry affirmative action. It’s just as discriminatory as the quotas used by Old Yale to cut down on Jews and Blacks and keep legacy WASPs around, just in a direction that is judged to be more politically correct these days. If we did away with gender, geographical distinction and race on the application, the majority of our students would be female, Asian and/or private school educated. None of those categories describe me, but I’m still all for it.

  • Arthur

    Yale ’00, like so many leftists, loves to make assumptions about the right wing. I’m a right-winger who’d be happy with a female majority on Yale’s campus if that’s what’s fair according to the merits.

  • Townie

    Who cares? Really….

  • Yale 08

    @ Yale 00

    You are assuming that the admission criteria Yale uses is correct (regardless of racial/sex characteristics).

    The entire admissions system is busted, as are most of the curriculum offerings at Yale.

    Gut classes abound. The course requirements are poorly designed.

    Yale should open up SOM, Law School, Med School and Grad School electives to undergrads.

    Directed Studies should be the required format for all incoming freshmen.

    Yale is incredible. An amazing place. But the education is mostly crap.

    Visiting professors are mediocre. Many tenured professors are half-hearted.

  • PiersonDad

    Observer, perhaps the Admissions Office calculate the yield by including students who deferred matriculation until next year.

  • Yale 10

    @ Yale 08,

    “Yale should open up SOM, Law School, Med School and Grad School electives to undergrads.”

    They are.

  • Jerome

    So what does it take to these days to make it to Yale?

  • @Pierson Dad

    You are, of course, correct.

    Uniquely in higher education, Yale chronically exaggerates its reported yield rate by including last year’s deferrees as matriculating members of the current class, but coyly and unaccountably refusing to count this year’s deferees as admits!

    They have been pulling this scam for at least 10 years.

    Yield rate numbers reported by the Yale Admissions Office are, in consequence, phony.

    The YDN is apparently in the tank, since they never call the administrators on this dubious maneuver, even when they are advised in advance to keep their eyes openm ask questions, and to compare reporting practices elsewhere.

  • CC’09

    #6, you and I went to very different Yales, apparently. Except for a few duds (3 out of, what, 40?), my instructors were TERRIFIC: brilliant, enthusiastic, dedicated to their field, and helpful teachers. This was true regardless of whether they were TA’s, visiting/adjunct, or tenure/tenure-track. I suppose it depends a lot on the department.

    As for directed studies being the required freshman curriculum, are you kidding? The beauty of Yale was that a character like me, who has interests all over the place, was able to explore various departments and settle into one that I loved. To have spent a year treading water by reading Milton and Plato? meh.

  • A 2013er himself

    Here is what those who are against affirmative action never seem to understand: Yale has never, and will never, be purely a meritocracy. Rather, Yale University’s goal is to provide the best education it can to those students who do enroll.

    Perhaps a minor distinction when phrased as such, but the implications for admissions are sweeping. Without the diverse perspectives that a class composed of a mix of whites, blacks, hispanics, atheists, asians, gays, feminists, Catholics, transgenders, conservatives, and a host of other groups, the education undergraduates receive would suffer. Studies literally prove that some of these groups do better on testing/grading than others: if this means Yale would admit a class that was 80% white suburban girls, the education would undoubtedly suffer.

    On the other hand, if each application is read in light of the context from which it came, Yale can reasonably expect to produce a distinguished class of VARYING perspectives and backgrounds that will teach and learn in an environment conducive to teaching and learning.

    Without the balance affirmative action brings, Yale students would receive an inferior education.

  • “on the merits”?

    What is “on the merits”?

    The goal is to make Yale as good as it can be, not to admit the top x people from some overall ranked list. Admission to Yale is not a prize. Yale needs some musicians. It needs some football players. Some writers. Some scientists. It helps enrich Yale to have all these things, and it helps enrich Yale to have some students from more of the states, from many different school backgrounds, many different ethnic backgrounds, some international students, and so on and so on.

    Does anyone seriously believe Yale would be a better place if it threw all those things out the window and just took all the highest SAT+GPA kids or whatever? I think that would be terrible. It wouldn’t be anything like as diverse and interesting a class — it would be a completely different experience, and nowhere near as good.

    And yes, I think a female-dominated or male-dominated Yale would probably not be as rich and interesting a place. There’s no need for exact equal numbers, but I think Yale ought to retain approximate equal numbers by gender.

  • @12

    #12 is being a bit disingenuous, no? Not to mention weirdly condescending.

    First, the author’s assumption that “a class composed of a mix of whites, blacks, hispanics, atheists, asians, gays, feminists, Catholics, transgenders, conservatives, …,” etc. would be impossible w/o affirmative action is deeply condescending. Is the author implying that the traditional targets of AA programs are simply incapable of competing? How rude…

    Second: no one is decrying or opposing such a mix–it is not now nor has ever been about the author’s little boxes (e.g., skin color, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, etc.); the criticisms of affirmative action have to do with intellectual capacity and disservice to all.

    Affirmative action effectively lowers the bar for admissions (rather than opening the door to the author’s stated groups, a door which had never really been closed), which does a disservice to QUALIFIED members of the target groups (whose qualifications are now forever suspect, allowing, among other things, for *actual* bigots to maintain their bigotry) and does a disservice to those who are artificially elevated in that they have a much higher rate of failure (a.k.a., a higher dropout rate).

    So, #12: please do not project your own elitism (i.e., soft bigotry) on those who prefer the G_d- and Constitution-given rights equality of opportunity to the condescension and bigotry of special treatment for some (the “some pigs are better than others” treatment).

    Oh, and welcome back!

  • Scott

    It is always taken as a given that diversity is an unqualified “good.” Is it? My own experience at Yale (and other schools) was that groups huddled. I hardly ever had the chance to even speak to a foreign student, for instance. They came, they studied, they went home. They never give money and they never come to reunions (generalizations, of course, but largely accurate). So it wasn’t just I who gained nothing from exposure to this “diversity,” but it’s hard to see how the University benefited either.

    Often, I think, what diversity gives us is a campus full of students who never gel as a class. Lots of little cliques and loners.

    I realize these are fighting words, but diversity proponents, so fervent, never cite any actual evidence as to diversity’s assumed benefits. Has there ever been a study? I’d love to see one.

  • Ricci Rich

    I take it #12 does NOT agree with the Ricci case…?

    Just sayin’…

  • Hieronymus


    Scott: there is no doubt (studies show and even I do not dispute) that historically underrepresented minorities benefit the most from “diversity,” most especially at elite institutions such as Yale. “Benefit” is measured by life achievement and income: typically such “preferred” groups achieve statistically higher positions/income than their peer group. This, of course, should be obvious; further, I would argue that those that go furthest didn’t really need the added boost of, e.g., Yale — there is such a (statistical) dearth of highly qualified underrepresented minorities vis-a-vis the number of institutions/companies trying to fill top slots that of COURSE certain groups benefit disparately and in an outsized manner.

    For example, when all Ivies seek, say, a 15% African American student body (or, as in the case of, say, UMass, up to 30%!), they all end up fighting over the same (small) pool of applicants. Same goes for Law (and law firms), Med, etc. Thomas Sowell speaks elegantly on this topic.

    In any case, you bring up an often overlooked (and certainly rarely discussed) point: why do groups “huddle?” And why would schools–and Yale is an egregious example–go out of their way to FACILITATE that self-segregation (think “cultural” houses–most especially the near-militant anti-Western, anti-intellectual MEChA organization)?

    I continue to argue, btw, that such facilitation is a weird form of Liberal condescension, i.e., “those” ppl couldn’t make it w/o all the help “we” give them; oh, and let’s help them keep out of the way… Liberal “equality” is frighteningly hypocritical and (should be) downright insulting.

    Here’s the funniest bit: go visit a (*gasp*) Christian, evangelical-style service (or even those Campus Crusade for Christ kids): there you will see *real* diversity: ethnic, cultural, socio-economice, etc. Why? Because when folks are in pursuit of a common goal, apparent (i.e., visual) diversity is a natural byproduct. When apparent (skin-tonal) diversity is the GOAL, the byproduct is not likely to be cohesion.

  • Goldie ’08

    Jerome: If you have to ask, you can’t get in

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