Freshman class most diverse ever

Photo by Josh Sandler / Student Publications - This year’s incoming freshman class is one of the most diverse groups and contains the most number of Tech Promise students.

Tech’s incoming class of freshman is one of the most diverse and also contains the most number of students in the Tech Promise program.

Applications continued their trend of increasing from year-to-year, with 13,500 students from 49 states and 89 countries applying for admission. The number marked an 18 percent increase over last year’s total.

“We are very pleased with the freshmen class that’s coming in… we were really pleased not only with the quality, academically…but also the fact that we achieved that quality and augmented [the class’] diversity,” said Rick Clark, Director of Admissions.

The percentage of women also reached an all-time high, increasing to 35 percent. This growth coincided with large rises in the number of African American and Hispanic students, with both increasing by over 50 percent from last year’s class.

Even with the makeup of the class differing from past years, the average SAT score and GPA remained similar. The average GPA was 3.89 and the average SAT score was 1376.

The diversity of the class was partly attributed to a change in the admissions process. The staff in the office looked to emphasize the need to cater to individual students and not try and only fit them in certain categories.

“We say a girl from North Carolina is going to have different questions and needs than a girl from Alphraetta or even a guy from North Carolina,” Clark said.

The office is also making an effort to reach out to students who have been admitted and those that have not even applied. Letters, postcards and other correspondences are established between current students and prospective students to maintain interest in Tech throughout the high school students’ college decision process. These are also sent to those who have been accepted to Tech but have not yet made a decision.

These relationships and messages sometimes start even earlier than a high school student’s senior year, as the admission office has made an effort to reach out to students just as they are entering high school.

“It starts all the way back from targeting 9th graders and 10th graders, and trying to work them through their high school careers,” Clark said

This was done through a variety of ways, including creating an online presence, like on Facebook.

“The traditional way you identify [these students] has changed so much, and where kids are finding out about schools is so different from the way it used to be. When I say that, I only mean four years ago or five years ago, it’s not generations,” Clark said.

The admissions process for students also underwent some changes in conjunction to the recruitment process for prospective students.

In keeping with the attitude that each student should be looked at individually, there was an even larger shift away from a formulaic approach towards a more holistic one.

“We never got as granular as we do now…we put so much more focus on course selection and rigor,” Clark said.

The class is also made up of more than 20 percent legacies.

“It’s always a goal to increase diversity geographically [and] ethnically, and we were able to do all of those this year, in a year when we also went up in SAT profile and academic rigor,” Clark said.

The Tech promise also has its largest class in the program ever, with 71 incoming freshmen from 31 counties becoming beneficiaries.

The program is intended to pay for the tuition of those students with a family annual income totaling less than $33,300.

The program is paid for through the Tech Foundation, which receives and manages financial donations received by the Institute.

“[The program’s purpose is so] that kids would not have to balance that weight of financial pressure when they are trying to focus on their studies,” Clark said.

The down economy has contributed to the number of students who qualify for the purely needs based program, but the admissions office has also increased its reach out to some parts of Georgia that may have been overlooked in the past.

“[As a staff] we’re doing better reaching further geographically in the state,” Clark said.

The program was originally started in 2007 by former Institute President G. Wayne Clough to help provide in-state students with a college education and graduate debt-free. Since the program’s inception, 93 Tech Promise students have graduated.