The class of 2018 is among the most diverse classes in Yale history.
In addition to representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, the freshman class includes students from 56 foreign countries — more than ever before. Among the 1,361 students in the class of 2018, 38 percent are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who identify as students of color, a slight uptick from the 37.1 percent of students in the class of 2017 who identified as students of color.
Though Mark Dunn, senior assistant director of Undergraduate Admissions, said numbers fluctuate year to year, he added that over the past 15 to 20 years, the University has become much more diverse as larger numbers of first-generation and minority students have matriculated.
The class of 2018 is the first incoming freshman class admitted during the tenure of Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan and University President Peter Salovey. Quinlan said he was humbled and excited to oversee the admissions process and welcome one of Yale’s strongest and most diverse classes to the University.
In the class of 2018, 14 percent of students are the first in their families to enter college, a number Dunn said is the highest since the admissions office began recording that data five or six years ago, while 13 percent attended high schools outside the country. That number includes a record high of 20 students from Africa and follows Salovey’s announcement at his inauguration last October that the University will deepen its ties with the continent under his leadership. Sixteen percent of freshmen also received a Pell Grant, a federally funded block grant for eligible low-income students.
One number that dropped slightly this year was the percentage of legacy students in the incoming class. Twelve percent of freshmen are sons or daughters of Yale alumni, a slight drop from the last few years, according to Dunn.
While Dunn said being a legacy can give a student an advantage, he emphasized that each case is decided holistically and couched within the particular context of the candidate’s background and experiences.
Fifty-seven percent of the class of 2018 graduated from a public high school, a two percent rise from last year, and more than 1,000 different high schools are represented in the class.
As 40 percent of freshmen intend to major in a sciences, technology, engineering or mathematics field, the admissions office met its STEM recruitment goal for the third year running.
In addition to these statistics — which the University has published in past years — Quinlan said the office has also released a number of new metrics to reveal the multidimensional diversity of the Yale student body.
“My office needs to do a better job of talking about the type of student that comes here,” Quinlan said.
Until recently, diversity in college admissions was portrayed only in racial and socioeconomic terms, he said. Although both remain critical measures of a class’s diversity, Quinlan added that by publishing other statistics such as the percentage of multilingual students or of students who have lived overseas, admissions officers can give outsiders a glimpse of the diversity they see on a routine basis in the committee room.
For the first time, the admissions office publicized that 37 percent of this year’s freshmen class speak a language other than English as either their first language or as the primary language spoken at home.
In addition, Dunn said that for the first year in recent memory, the admissions office has publicized the approximate percentage of students in the incoming freshmen class who identify as Latino — 10.4 percent. According to Dunn and Quinlan, this is the largest number of Latinos to enter the University since the office began tracking this data.
Still, in an email to the News, Dunn declined to provide any additional breakdown of ethnicity numbers, including the number of African-Americans and Native American students in the incoming class, citing the challenge of reconciling data from different reporting systems such as the Common Application and Yale’s Student Information System.
Quinlan echoed Dunn’s answer, adding that the admissions office has to walk a fine line between educating the community about the diversity represented in Yale’s applicant pool and also not putting too much stock into data points from small sample sizes.
Jim Patterson, an upper school dean at Harvard-Westlake, a Los Angeles private high school, said schools are understandably reluctant to release precise numbers because of the zero-sum nature of college admissions.
“When you reveal the exact breakdown of a class, you create a perception that there are quotas,” he said.
Given the scrutiny that surrounds selective institutions such as Yale, media outlets may seize on year-to-year fluctuations at the expense of longer-term analysis, he added.
Although Quinlan said the office is actively looking for high-achieving students of color and from low-income backgrounds, he added that the diversification of the applicant pool and incoming classes must also be attributed to broader social forces such as the changing demographics of the country. He cited both the growth of the Latino population and the growing number of applicants from the Southwest relative to elsewhere in the country as two such examples.
Students interviewed said they see diversity as an benefit to their own educations.
Pratik Gandhi ’18, a student from Mumbai, India, said Yale’s diversity helps facilitate the kind of important global conversations that will shape the next century. He added that if he had attended university in India, he would have only heard one perspective of a number of critical issues.
Adelaide McNamara ’18 said the diversity of the freshman class has already caused her to recognize some of her privileges such as her affluent family background and race.
“Diversity allows Yale to prepare us to be leaders in a diverse world,” Elena Vazquez ’18 said.
Vazquez added that students need to learn how to be comfortable as team members and leaders of communities with a variety of perspectives and backgrounds.
For the class of 2018, Yale admitted 1,935 students from an applicant pool of 30,932, making for an acceptance rate of 6.26 percent.