You could call the university's undergraduate class of 2003 the fortunate many. A record high number of applications has led to the most selective admissions process in the past 50 years, according to Robert Massa, dean of enrollment.
Next fall approximately 650 students will join the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and 340 will take their place in the Whiting School of Engineering, the largest freshman class in that school's history.
The university admitted 33 percent of the record 9,500 students who applied, the lowest percentage since 1950, when the school started to keep admission statistics. The previous most selective class was that of 1966, when 37 percent of the applicants were accepted.
Massa said the university's ability to be highly selective was impacted by both the number of applicants and the increased scholarship aid for incoming students. The availability of more scholarship money meant that more students would accept the offer of admission and thus fewer students had to be admitted.
The scholarship increase was made possible by a $30 million commitment for undergraduate financial aid by Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the university's board of trustees. The gift, announced in October 1998, was intended to provide students with relief from large loan burdens, while at the same time making Hopkins more competitive in cost among its peer institutions.
"We couldn't be more thrilled with the results of the Bloomberg gift," Massa said. "We sent letters announcing this gift to 25,000 prospective students and 8,000 high schools. It clearly had an impact on the number of applications we received."
Massa said the high number was also a result of "frequent and specific marketing efforts" on the part of the Enrollment Services staff. The multifaceted recruitment process included identifying specific areas of interest for prospective students and sending information tailored to those interests. The staff in Admissions and Financial Aid also disseminated information about Hopkins through high school visits, meeting with high school counselors, direct mail, email, telephone, campus visits and on- and off-campus programs, such as open houses and receptions held across the country, from New York to California.
"It has been a very labor intensive but highly personal recruitment process," Massa said. "We wanted to increase the number of applications to be able to choose the best students among the national applicant pool."
Enrollment Services has set a goal of receiving 10,000 applications by the year 2000 as part of a strategic planning effort, which is intended to ensure the university's continued competitiveness.
The median SAT score for incoming freshmen is 1380, one of the highest scoring classes in recent times.
"They are also an extremely talented group. We paid particular attention in the process to those who demonstrated leadership and ability in arts, music, debate, athletics and community service," Massa said.
Nine percent of the class of 2003 will be comprised of international students, another record high for the university. That number is up 4 percent from just two years ago. Massa attributes this increase to the active recruitment campaign made by the Office of International Admissions and to the efforts of current international undergraduate students, who volunteered to recruit students from their home countries.
"The more you reach out, the better results you are going to get," Massa added.
Massa said the university's 60 to 40 ratio of male to female students will remain relatively the same.