Freshmen change campus dynamic

One word used to describe broad groups of college students that evokes the most vivid images and memories is the word “freshman.” This week, Tech welcomed its newest freshman class, the Class of 2015, onto campus.

The Office of Undergraduate Admission released a statistical profile of the class of 2015 based on the information of accepted students who have mailed in their deposit. The total number of applicants this year was 14,226, a five percent increase from last year and a new record, with Tech accepting 7207 students and receiving 2749 acceptance deposits. The average high school GPA of the entering class is 3.88, and the average combined SAT score is 2030.

Regarding the increasingly competitive admission for undergraduate studies at Tech, the acceptance rate this year was 51.5 percent versus 63 percent just four years ago.

“More students are graduating from high schools, and students are applying to more schools these days, but we have seen a bigger growth at Tech than some of our competitors. The bottom line is, [that] it’s a lot harder to get in now,” said Rick Clark, the Director of Undergraduate Admissions.

Approximately 60 percent of the class of 2015 are residents of the state of Georgia, 30 percent are out-of-state domestic students, while nine percent are international students.

“In Georgia, we are getting about the same number [of applications]. The real growth is from outside of Georgia. The biggest notables regions are the Northeast, California and China,” Clark said.

According to Clark, Tech’s undergraduate class size is expected to be kept relatively constant in the foreseeable future, with the same relative ratio between residents, out of state domestics and international students. Thus, this trend of increasing selectivity is expected to continue as the number of applications increases further.
Perhaps the most obvious and most discussed demographic issue at Tech is the gender ratio. Traditionally, Tech has enrolled freshman classes with approximately 28 percent women each year, but this year, almost 38 percent of the freshman class are women.

One of Tech’s stated goals is to be a top producer of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and the Office of Undergraduate Admission has undertaken a number of efforts to increase interest and awareness of Tech in female high school students, such as FUTURES, a visitation program for high school females, as well as programs for admitted female applicants.

However, there are still long standing challenges in addressing the gender ratio at Tech.

The male-to-female ratio for the freshman class itself could be misleading because transfer students are predominantly male, and male students also take longer than female students to graduate. These factors result in an overall male-to-female ratio of approximately 7:3 on campus.

“One of the challenges in recruiting women to Tech is the perception that all we have are STEM majors. However, we have done a good job in communicating that we also have programs outside of STEM, for instance, for young women who are business minded, who want to be entrepreneurs, but who may not be aware of our programs in the College of Management,” said Amy Clines, Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission.

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