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Class of 2006 most diverse in history of University

by Skip Anderson
This year’s freshman class is the strongest academically in the University’s history and broke several admission records, many set as recently as last year.

“This class has the highest numbers in everything we value in our students,” said Bill Shain, dean of undergraduate admissions.

Class of 2006 represents the lowest admission rate and highest yield in the University’s history, both of which have improved each year since 1997. Shain attributes this trend to the quality of students seeking admission at Vanderbilt.

“The applicant pool has been considerably stronger,” he said. “This year, the average applicant had SATs over 1300. Six years ago, it was 1276.”

While he declined to discuss the specific SAT scores of classes enrolled at Vanderbilt, he said the average score for enrolled students have gone up 32 points since 1997.

“That’s a whole standard deviation,” said Shain.

Stronger applicants mean more students accepted by the admissions office, which translates to a stronger yield — the number of applicants accepted who are enrolled as of 10 days into the fall semester.

“It is because our yield has gone up unexpectedly that our classes are larger than planned,” said Shain.

The admissions office planned to enroll 1,522 students this fall. As of the 10-Day Report — a common standard for enrollment figures — 1,578 undergraduate students were enrolled, or 3.6 percent more students than expected.

Peabody College, which enrolled 23 more students than projected, has seen a dramatic increase in the academic credentials of its students. Figures from the 10-Day Report show that the average SAT score from this year’s freshman class was up 23 points compared to the previous year, and up 56 points since 1997.

“That’s absolutely phenomenal,” said Shain, indicating that the trend continues across all undergraduate schools at Vanderbilt.

This year, there were 400 fewer undergraduate applicants with SAT scores below 1250 and 774 more applicants with scores above 1250 compared to 1998.

“Our increased selectivity appears to be scaring off the weaker candidates,” he said.

Of the students indicating race, 19.96 percent are traditionally underrepresented minorities, said Greg Perfetto, assistant provost. This is the highest percentage in the University’s history.

Fifty-two percent of the class is female, which Shain described as “about average” for Vanderbilt.

“We are gender-blind and geography-blind in admissions,” he said.

However, a study of the 10-Day Report indicates 20.9 percent of the freshman class is from the Northeast.

“This is by far the most students we’ve had from the Northeast,” said Shain. “We seem really to be gaining momentum in the Boston-Washington corridor.”

Approximately 14 percent of the freshman class hail from Tennessee, about half a percentage point fewer than the 2001 freshman class.

Posted on 9/16, 2002 at 9:20 a.m.

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