Amid soaring application counts and plummeting acceptance rates each year, one trait that holds steady in Yale admissions is the diversity of the University’s incoming class.

This year’s new freshmen follow in the footsteps of the class of 2016 — which boasted the most racially diverse incoming student population in the University’s history — in terms of socioeconomic and racial diversity. Among the 1,360 students, 37.1 percent are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who identify as students of color, compared to 40.6 percent last year. Additionally, roughly 50 percent of both the class of 2016 and class of 2017 qualified for University financial aid.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said that over time, the Admissions Office has seen more and more students in Yale’s applicant pool come from first-generation or low-income backgrounds. Growing numbers of students also have identified as multiracial.

“Year-to-year comparisons are often difficult, but over time, I think we’ve seen increasing diversity, and this is another year of increasing that trend,” Quinlan said.

In the class of 2017, 12 percent of students are the first in their families to attend college, and 10 percent hail from abroad. More than half of the students are from public high schools, and around 15 percent of the class self-reported more than one ethnicity, compared to 14 percent identifying as multiracial last year.

Although the effects of diversity in universities are hard to quantify, James Onwuachi, college counselor at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Ga., and a former admissions officer at Vanderbilt University, said diversity’s importance to a college education cannot be underestimated.

“I think that diversity in higher education is vitally important because that’s a reflection of what America is going to be in the next 30 to 40 years,” Onwuachi said. “It teaches and enlarges experiences.”

Similar to some of its peer institutions, Yale reports students’ race in multiple categories if students identify as multiracial. In the class of 2017, roughly 60 percent of U.S. students identify as white, 20 percent identify as Asian, 10 percent identify as African-American, 10 percent identify as Hispanic, 2 percent identify as Native American and 10 percent are international.

Though the overlap in those reporting as multiracial creates a total of 112 percent, Quinlan said Yale counts these students in multiple categories in order to present a holistic picture of the University’s diversity.

“We have numbers over 100 percent because we want to count students for each ethnicity for which they self-identify,” Quinlan said.

Terry Kung, co-director of college counseling at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, said she believes enrolling a class in which 37.1 percent of students identify as people of color is a “respectable accomplishment” for Yale. Still, Kung said she believes universities cannot set a national benchmark for what a “good level of diversity” should be, because the goals and values of different institutions vary so widely.

Quinlan underscored the importance of assembling a diverse incoming class, though he added that each application is still evaluated holistically and individually.

“We are actively looking for students of color and low-income students who will be incredibly successful at Yale,” Quinlan said. “[But] we are looking for the top students in our pool, no matter their background.”

For the class of 2017, Yale admitted 1,991 students from a record pool of 29,610 applicants.

  • xmomentum

    The admissions office has also seen more applications from people who falsely claim to be from low income background, or falsely claim to be prospective first generation college applicants. This is particularly possible when those applications come from particular foreign countries. The admissions office had been warned about this, but ignores the warning, because they want to be able to report and boast about their admit class statistics. In other words, either they are kidding themselves (inexcusably), or they lie.

    • lakia

      Or perhaps they are knuckling under to an imperialist President of the United States and a DOJ that has gone rogue?

    • concerned

      It may well be an intentional lie. As a first generation college graduate whose grandparents on both sides came through Ellis Island, I still can’t figure out how hard it can possibly be to make big money in the US by depressing immigrant wages. Genuine first-gen freshmen, do not believe you have to look over the shoulder of Peter Salovey’s father, or anyone else’s for that matter to find your true place at the table. Whatever the family tree, known or unknown, each new generation is a genetic crap shoot due to random segregation of alleles. That is something worth going to college to learn about. Dealing with an impoverished background? My working mother wouldn’t have time to argue an arguable class ranking as a good education for her children was the real deal. Now you, as much as anyone else at Yale has access to the latest research to help you improve your chances. Stressing out about work study? See Science 30 August 2013, doi:10.1126/science.1238041 and tell Yale you need your intellectual band width back so you can graduate at the top of your class at Yale and carry on with that role in society truthfully as someone with a background of modest means.

      • xmomentum

        Believe me. The cheaters from those countries are NOT of modest means. Yale knows it, and ignores it.

        • concerned

          That means your job is not to let an under resourced background limit what you want to accomplish on campus as a practical matter. Understand your needs as a student, push Yale to truthfully meet those needs and join in helping others that you can see are not lying about it. If there is a public policy aspect that precipitates misrepresenting the background of students (lies) it is important for others to help in bringing this to the surface so the implications can be understood and recognized by all who Yale claims to serve. I see no reason why a work-study arrangement cannot be switched out to a rigorous STEM major with extra financial aid, for example. In addition to tutoring/mentorship, as needed.

          • wellworn zeta

            “If there is a public policy aspect that precipitates misrepresenting the background of students (lies)……..”

            1. A lie is a lie. We would expect an 18-year-old Yalie to be able to tell.
            2. If an 18-year-old is kicked out of Yale for having lied in his/her applications, that will be the lightest punishment he/she will ever have to face in his/her life. If he/she learns the necessary lessons from such a fate, the lessons will be more valuable to him/her than anything he/she could learn at Yale.
            3. A liar should be punished, or it would not be fair to honest Yalies.
            4. I quoted you above for kicks. You are a flake.

            But hey, what do we expect from Yale. An errant department chair gets one year suspension for having taken his student to bed.

            As it is, Yale is not worth it.

          • concerned

            I meant the public charities aspect. You should know that colleges in the US are organized and governed as public charities and are thus, for starters, overseen by the IRS and subject to its regulations and rules. The IRS maintains an active program to audit tax-exempt charitable organizations. Congress regularly holds oversight hearings on issues affecting tax exempt organizations. I did not make this up, and I quoted it from the internet. In other areas of public oversight, we know about the victims of Ariel Castro because there was more than one, and they went to the police. Because of this he received a life sentence in prison. Although initially, the cops ignored a citizen’s report by witnesses to one of his abductions. They later claimed the FBI was on the case. But I digress. However I can assure you that a young chair taking students to bed had plenty of role models at Yale and they are still around.

          • wellworn zeta

            You are not connecting these things for me. A lie is a lie. So what about public charities aspect, the IRS, your digression, and department head perverts. Probably you are saying there are many facets to consider. Hey it’s Yale. We can figure it out if we want to. It’s not that we cannot. We just will not. Because we are evil. Salovey is evil. Levin is evil.

          • concerned

            You may not want to because you may not need to. But inquiring minds want to know, wherever they are, and name calling won’t work.

          • Charlie

            The list of what won’t work with Yale leaders, on things that should call only for conscience and common sense, is very long.

            What will work?

          • concerned

            The damage done in an academic setting through lies, negligence and hatred(towards socioeconomic class or whatever other provocation) are profound. Individuals will take money (jobs) favors, or threats to advance agendas in secret. One person pointing out one discrepancy won’t stand up to a system of lies, of course. But one person manipulating a university (Jerry Sandusky is the most infamous example to date) can truly tarnish an entire institution permanently. It starts with someone knowing they can lie and knowing the people behind them will support that lie. So calling for conscience and common sense is no protection at all from the willful manipulator. Identifying perverted data and pointing this out and insisting on the real data and analysis instead would go a long way towards discouraging the train wreck from leaving the station.

  • observer

    A key piece of information has not been reported: in the end, how many applicants for places in the class of 2017 were admitted, including how many from the wait list? If there were any at all admitted from the wait list (and surely there were) then the actually number of admits exceeds the number of 1,991 initial admits reported in March per the last line of this story.