Freshman enrollment rises

At last Sunday’s Convocation ceremony, Tech administrators and current students welcomed the incoming class. In total, the freshman class is made up of approximately 2690 students, representing 45 different states and 51 different countries. The increased enrollment shows higher numbers with regards to female enrollment and also reflects the changes made by Tech’s admissions department throughout the previous year.

Since last year, the undergraduate admissions department has undergone administrative and protocol changes. Late last year, former Associate Director of Admissions Rick Clark became the Director of Admissions. In his first year, Clark saw percentages in female enrollment and out-of-state applicants rise for the 2008-2009 school year.

“We still saw 15% more students apply from outside the state of Georgia than last year. I was really surprised by that. I think a lot of that has to do with Georgia Tech and that with a degree, people [who] graduate from Tech can find a job,” Clark said.

Of the students, approximately 40% are from out of state. In addition, the ratio of female to male students in the freshman class rose to its highest ever, with 33% female enrolled students to 67% male students. According to Clark, the increased percentage of female students could suggest the success of women’s recruitment programs and initiatives, including a new postcard campaign to prospective female students.

One of the most interesting changes to admissions protocol and application is reflected in this year’s enrollment statistics. In prior years, students marked ethnicities in categories labelled clearly as Asian, African-American, Hispanic, etc. Last year’s application, however, replaced these categories with a new section that allowed applicants to mark multiple ethnicities, a move mandated by President Barack Obama’s administration.

“Students who have been previously categorized as Asian, Hispanic,or Black can be pulled into a multicultural bucket. The multicultural population is around 700% higher, but students in the old categories are down because they are choosing different ethnicities,” Clark added.

Because of this change, the admissions department has issued a student survey to the freshman class to clarify issues this change may have caused. This survey will be used to compare statistics for under-represented minorities and compare them to previous years.

Not only did the demographic information undergo changes, other criteria were altered greatly as well. Rather than reviewing only the verbal and math sections of the SAT, the admissions board began to take the writing section into account. Last year’s applications marked the first time Tech’s admissions department has used the three-section scale, and reported the average SAT score to be approximately 2000 (1365 on the old two-section scale).

“We looked at [the SAT writing section and essay] for this year’s class and we’re going to continue to do that. The last couple years we’ve been looking at it, but haven’t used it. We definitely tracked it more closely, because in looking at most other classes, it’s a better indicator of GPA and college performance,” Clark said. “… we’re still going to use the [admissions] essay because it’s helpful and we get to know the students that way, but we’re slowly gearing around the [SAT] writing essay.”

Admissions decisions have also changed and will continue to utilize a more standard rolling decision process.

“We released admissions decisions on three different days between mid December and mid March. I felt like when I became a director that it must be confusing for students because you might apply and someone finds out 2 weeks early. We felt like giving students a more definitive time when they find out, to help relieve students of that anxiety,” Clark added.

For this year’s admissions Clark and the admissions department hope to continue ushering change for applicants, but not with the support of everyone.

“One thing that’s kind of interesting, and I’ve heard a lot of alumni make comments about this. The President’s Scholarship deadline has always been Oct 31, but this year we’re changing it to Nov 1. It’s really funny because it really shows that some people really hate change. Some people really can’t believe we have the audacity to move it back one day. Most schools have deadlines on the 1 or the 15, not on the 31 so that’s what we decided to do,” Clark said.

Despite some criticism with the admissions department’s modifications, the statistics still continue to show upward trends.