More than a year of undergraduate recruiting work is over; the May 1 acceptance deadline for prospective freshmen has come and gone; staffers of Enrollment Services have emerged from the piles of acceptance mail, and the Class of 2002 is now enrolled at Hopkins.
Out of an applicant pool of 8,600 high school seniors, the Class of 2002 will be made up of 990 incoming freshmen representing 49 states and 38 countries.
"We had a very good year," says Robert Massa, dean of enrollment at Homewood. "We had an exciting pool of students to draw from in the first place. We were really able to select the students of very high academic quality who have also exhibited strong leadership qualities and extracurricular interests in high school."
At 990, it could be one of the university's largest classes, up from 945 last year, though not as big as the Class of 2000. The Office of Admissions' target was 970 students.
And, naturally, they're smart, with a combined SAT average of 1370. They have chosen Hopkins for a variety of different academic fields. This year, however, a larger than ever number of incoming freshmen, 340, have enrolled in the Whiting School of Engineering. That's up from 310 last year. Twenty-four percent of those students are women, which is something of a coup because the national average of undergraduate women in engineering is only 14 percent.
"We had an incredible response to our offers in engineering this year," Massa says. "This is explained partly because it's a hot field right now. But I think their eagerness to come here also speaks very highly of the concerted effort by engineering faculty and [interim dean] Roger Westgate to personally reach out to prospective students. They were there at every open house, they kept in touch with students over e-mail and by phone, and they really followed up with them. That personal touch made a tremendous difference."
In addition, admissions director Paul White, operations director Diane Fleming, financial aid director Ellen Frishberg and their staffs deserve significant credit for bringing in the class for both schools.
In Arts and Sciences, 30 percent of the new freshmen are interested in social sciences (about the same as last year), and 20 percent are entering the humanities (up 1 percentage point from last year). The rest are enrolling in the natural sciences. "We still have a large natural sciences enrollment, but the others are definitely gaining," Massa adds.
The class will also give the Homewood campus more of an international flavor; it has one of the university's highest enrollment of international students in its history. Nine percent of the class comes from other countries; that's up from 5 percent last year. Massa believes that a combination of Hopkins' university-wide effort to extend itself into the international community and the energy of the staff in international undergraduate admissions, has a lot to do with this year's bumper crop of students from different countries and cultures.
"It's very important for a university to strive for diversity because we learn more when we learn with people from different backgrounds," Massa says. "When people who are very different from each other come to a campus with a common vision of academic excellence, it improves the quality of that campus dramatically."
Hopkins' goals toward diversity have typically been tough to reach because the university's endowment for financial aid has been less than those of peer colleges. In this year's incoming freshman class, for example, the percentage of students receiving aid from Hopkins is 38 percent; peer universities average around 44 percent.
That is why Massa is so excited that Hopkins trustees voted last week to raise the bar of its $900 million fund-raising goal to $1.2 billion, with student financial aid as a priority of the remainder of the campaign.
"In the past, and this year, we've lost some very able students because we couldn't meet their financial need," he says. "I think that will change in our near future."