When letters of acceptance from prospective Hopkins freshmen
began pouring in this spring, the Homewood enrollment services
staff began feeling cautiously jubilant.
A focused recruitment campaign last winter had paid off. By the time the letters were all in, the numbers in three target areas for the Class of 2000--engineering students (particularly women), humanities majors and African Americans--had increased significantly compared to previous years' numbers.
There was just one thing: a lot of other high school graduates also were eager to join the Hopkins Class of 2000. Now admissions and enrollment officers--the same staff as a year ago- -are wondering if this year they perhaps did too good a job.
One hundred more high school seniors than anticipated have chosen Hopkins, so administrators from a variety of areas are bracing themselves for a very large class.
"Two years ago, we had a surplus of students, and it caught us by surprise," said Larry Benedict, dean of Homewood Student Affairs who heads the Smooth Opening Task Force, a committee which has been meeting since the beginning of May. "This year we're meeting early and often to make sure there are no problems," he said.
Twice a month, the task force--with representatives from Homewood's housing, residential life, orientation, registrar's and counseling offices--gets together to discuss every aspect of student life that might be affected by a freshman class of more than 1,000 students. They are working to make sure, among other things, that there are enough dorm rooms, class sections for basic freshmen classes and all the necessary student services available to ensure each freshman's transition from high school to college is a smooth one.
"It's a stellar class, a really wonderful class of people coming in," Benedict said. "But still, it would have been nice to have this same class, only smaller."
The Class of 2000 has a combined median SAT score in the1350 range, which compares favorably to previous years' classes. And each student has a record of leadership and extracurricular activities. What's more, this class has a rich diversity of students, especially in areas where a paucity of students had been felt over the last few years.
For example, last year, a target for 275 incoming freshmen into the Whiting School of Engineering was not met. Instead, 245 students accepted admission, only 14 percent of whom were women.
"Coming in below our target of 275 this year was simply not an option," said Robert Massa, dean of Enrollment Services. "The Engineering administration and faculty mounted a very aggressive recruiting campaign to encourage admitted students to enroll. Dean Giddens and Engineering faculty members personally called the students, wrote them letters and invited them for campus visits. The school also offered some targeted money for scholarships and financial aid packages for students based on need."
As a result, 320 future freshmen have accepted admission into the School of Engineering. Of those 320, 26 percent are women.
Incoming students with strong backgrounds in the humanities also climbed this year, from 18 percent (115 students) of the Class of 1999, to 23 percent (160 students) of the Arts and Sciences Class of 2000.
Massa believes much of the success in recruiting those students can be attributed to contacts admission officers made with advanced placement high school English and history teachers across the country. Special open houses were also held for prospective humanities students, and again, personal phone calls were made and letters sent to admitted students by Arts and Sciences dean Steven Knapp and faculty members.
Another big push for admission recruiters this year was to encourage more African American students to come to Hopkins.
"It's important for Hopkins to have a multicultural student body," Massa said. "And we felt that last year's freshman class, with only 45 African Americans who accepted admission, was simply too low. We weren't shooting for a specific target number of incoming African American freshmen, but we want to be more in line with our peer institutions, at about 8 to 9 percent of the class."
To encourage African American students to accept admission, Paul White, director of Undergraduate Admissions, worked with Hopkins' African American alumni, the Second Decade Society and undergraduates to set up a special recruitment campaign, which included a phone-a-thon and personalized campus visits.
As a result, there was a more than 100 percent increase (100 students) in the number of African American students enrolling in the Class of 2000.
"I really think the difference has everything to do with the efforts of our current African American undergraduates working with Paul White," Massa said. "Together, they did an extraordinary job."
Outside the targeted areas, the numbers of incoming students have remained consistent for the last few years. For example, some 260 new students are enrolled in the natural sciences, about equal to last year's number.
As pleased as he is to have increases in the targeted areas, Massa said he is well aware that 100 extra students will place stresses on the campus.
"This is going to require a lot of cooperation among the Hopkins staff, faculty and students," Massa said. "But I'm confident that by working together we can ensure that the newest members of the Johns Hopkins community will feel they have done well in choosing Hopkins."
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