Yale freshmen keep getting smarter and smarter — and more diverse.

Now that Yale’s admissions policy is need-blind for international students as well as domestic students, the applicant pool is more competitive, and incoming classes will be more varied. Yale’s new policy for international students enables more applicants from less represented countries to attend the University.

Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said that 60 percent of international students in the class of 2005 will receive financial aid, as compared to 24.7 percent in the class of 2004.

“With 60 percent on aid, it seems that more socioeconomic diversity would lead to a different group than ever before,” Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said. “Now all international students are competing at an incredibly high level regardless of need. You need to be the best and brightest in the country and among the most competitive in the world.”

It is too soon to determine the impact of Yale’s new policy since students who applied for early decision last year did not benefit from the need-blind initiative.

Many international students said they had not heard of the new policy before they applied.

“I didn’t find out that they had need-blind financial aid until after I got in,” YoonSeok-George Lee ’05 said. “My family was in a position where they could pay for it, but they’d have to compromise an arm and a leg. I didn’t apply for it because I thought it would compromise my chances of getting in.”

Most international students said their parents attended college in their native country, and none of the students interviewed were children of alumni. The students agreed that the new policy provides an excellent opportunity for students from more diverse backgrounds to go to Yale and will ease the burden on less privileged families.

“I think that Yale’s need-blind admission to international students has allowed much more interesting individuals to matriculate in this school,” Palestinian Raja Shamas ’05 said. “During previous years, the international students that were admitted tended to be of a wealthier background, which meant that they had less unusual experiences.”

Shaw said students in the Class of 2005 represent the countries of Barbados, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Ireland, Mauritius, Peru, Poland, Ukraine and Zimbabwe, which are usually not well-represented. The class also includes more students from Latin America because of Yale’s recruiting efforts.

Those interviewed said Yale must be more aware of the social differences between westernized and less-westernized students. Fabrice Lesaffre ’04 said that though the new policy may bring more academic talent to Yale, it could also cause student integration problems.

While most students said they wanted to maintain a balance of international and non-international friends, some said it is easier to relate to other international students.

“People are friendly, but international students understand me better,” said Moritz Plischke ’05 of Japan.

Others said the awkwardness is sometimes a language barrier.

“Some expressions such as ‘hooking up’ and ‘knocking someone up’ mean something different in my slang than they do in the American, so it sometimes creates some awkward situations,” German-born Max Neuvians ’05 said.

Approximately one-third of international students said coming to Yale was their first trip to the United States, which can make acclimation to life in New Haven more difficult.

“People speak in a louder tone here,” T.J. Lim ’05 said. “Some may be very polite but not as warm as in the Philippines. It’s great though because many are friendly … but still I am adjusting.”

Though international students can be very different from American students, they do share many common experiences.

“I believe that the hard part of the adjustment process is common for both internationals and non-internationals, since we all have to give up our home either that’s in Connecticut or in China,” Olympia Galenianou ’05 of Greece said.

-Staff Reporter Louise Story contributed to this article.