Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 2, 1997

Diversity, Involvement
Drive "Class of

Mike Field
Staff Writer

A new undergraduate class arrived on the Homewood campus Aug. 30, signaling the start, for many, of the university's 122nd academic year. As in years past, the entering freshman class of 940 students is a varied and accomplished group, this year representing 44 states and 38 foreign countries.

"This is an extremely diverse class in terms of academic interests, in terms of geographic distribution and in terms of cultural and ethnic heritage," said Robert Massa, dean of enrollment management on the Homewood campus. "We believe very strongly that this great variety brings a strength to life on campus that is essential for a well-rounded university experience."

Massa and his admissions staff are particularly pleased with the increasing number of women who have chosen to come to Hopkins. For the first time in Hopkins history, the School of Arts and Sciences has enrolled more women than men by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.

"There has been a conscious effort on the part of the undergraduate admissions staff to increase enrollment of women and to increase the appeal that Hopkins has for women," Massa said. "Obviously, we are very pleased with these results."

Another area in which efforts to change the profile of the incoming class have proved successful has been in the mix of sciences and humanities. "When I arrived eight years ago, the typical incoming class was made up of only 7 to 8 percent humanities majors," Massa said. "This year, for the second year in a row, 15 percent of our incoming students identify themselves as humanities majors. We believe this mix makes for a more interesting learning environment."

Three hundred students--roughly a third of the incoming class--are enrolled in the Whiting School of Engineering. Those students continue to be predominantly male, bringing the final composition of the incoming class to 56 percent male, 44 percent female. The median SAT score is 1360, one of the highest in Hopkins' history.

With a pool of almost 8,500 applicants, including many of the best students in America, the Admissions staff was able to select individuals who were more than just academically gifted. "This is a class of leaders," Massa said. "We looked very closely at the personal profiles, which is something we have the luxury of doing because our applicant pool is so strong. We can look at dimensions beyond academic qualities and bring together a group of students who will make outstanding contributions to both campus life and in the larger community."

Being highly selective helps other divisions within the university as well. At the Peabody Institute, for instance, director of admissions David Lane said that for many students, making the commitment to full-time music studies is a self-selecting process.

"We have 275 incoming students this year, of whom 104 are enrolled at the undergraduate level," Lane said. "Of that number, 72 are freshmen, and roughly a third--32 students--are transferring here from other programs."

The Peabody Institute tends to attract students who have realized their true calling in life. "The transfer students are typically individuals who have started their undergraduate experience enrolled in a more traditional college or university, but soon find they are fish swimming against the stream," Lane said. "Our students are very, very serious about their music, and need an environment where long hours of intense practice are the norm."

In fact, according to Lane, the challenge the institute regularly faces with incoming students lies in convincing them there is more that needs to be learned than the music alone. "We have a saying here that it's not enough to wiggle your fingers the fastest or sing the highest note," he said. "Our objective is to make these students educated musicians. Learning how music fits in the larger context of the world leads to making better musicians."

Across town at the School of Nursing, faculty members are preparing to welcome the first undergraduate class in the history of the school that will have its own building to call home. By the end of the year, when the new School of Nursing building is slated to open, the school's 272 new students, including 192 undergraduates, will enjoy state-of-the-art lab and classroom facilities all within easy walking distance of the main entrance to the hospital.

"This group of students is best described by the wide variety of background and experience they bring to us," said Mary Herlihy, director of admissions and student services at the school. "The average age of our entering undergraduate students is probably somewhere around 28. These are individuals who have had time to be out in the world and get a good idea of what they want to do. We attract a kind of student who is interested in nursing because it is a way of helping others. Almost all of our incoming students have extensive volunteer experience in a variety of areas."

Outside experience is a critical factor in selecting the School of Medicine entering class as well, according to assistant dean for admissions Dave Trabilsy. "We have 120 incoming students, of whom 62 are men and 58 women, making it the second highest percentage of women in the school's history," Trabilsy said. "Although it is a very diverse group coming from 29 states and 67 different colleges, the one thing that seems consistent is the extraordinary degree of involvement with different kinds of activities."

The incoming medical students are not only academically gifted, many are extremely accomplished in other areas as well. "We have varsity athletes, and many who held significant roles in student government, and others who undertook substantial research projects or were deeply involved in volunteer work," Trabilsy said. "Almost all have received recognition for outstanding academic records, but it is the scope and achievement in their outside activities that really sets them apart."

At the School of Hygiene and Public Health, it is the scope of the student body itself that defines the incoming class. Of the 575 new students expected, fully 31 percent are international, representing 69 different countries all told. This year 61 percent of the incoming students are female, said Linda Myers, director of admissions at the school. "We get students from all walks of life and all over the world," she said. "One of our fastest-growing areas is in part-time programs, such as the part-time master in public health degree."

This year the school has enrolled 29 students in a special distance education certificate program, which is a non-degree program funded by the Centers for Disease Control for its field employees. "Public health issues are complex and growing, and the school is seeking to meet the demand for new programs," Myers said. "Most of our students come to the school with very specific needs they need met. We have a very self-focused student body."

Note: Admissions information for the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies was unavailable at press time.

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