New freshmen bring diverse experiences and identities to Yale

Members of the Yale College Class of 2020 will arrive on campus today, taking part in one of the university’s most beloved traditions: freshman move-in day. The 1,373 new freshmen traveled from all 50 states and 50 different foreign countries to New Haven, where Yale President Peter Salovey, Dean of Yale College Jonathan Holloway, the deans and heads of the 12 residential colleges, and hundreds of student volunteers will officially welcome the newest members of the Yale community.

“Students in the class of 2020 have already accomplished a remarkable amount both locally and globally,” said Holloway. “Over the next four years they will share their varied experiences, ideas, identities, and passions with each other as they grow and undoubtedly leave their mark on the Yale community.”   

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan reported that his office has seen tremendous growth in the applicant pool from highly qualified students whose backgrounds have been historically underrepresented at selective colleges. “As we prepare to expand undergraduate enrollment to fill two new residential colleges, we are well-positioned to offer a Yale College education to a greater number of accomplished students with an even wider range of experiences and identities,” he said.

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Students in the freshman class of 2020 attended more than 1,000 different secondary schools, graduating from senior classes that ranged in size from more than 1,400 students to fewer than 10. More than 12% of the class attended high school abroad, and more than 60% of students from the United States attended a public high school.

Students in the class speak more than 60 different languages, and 36% of freshmen speak a language other than English at home. Their hometowns range in size from fewer than 200 to more than 10 million. More than 200 freshmen are eligible for a federal Pell grant for low-income students, and 52 will receive a new Yale College Start-up Fund as part of the new $2 million undergraduate financial aid initiative announced last December. Yale spent more than $121 million on undergraduate financial aid last academic year, and the average undergraduate need-based scholarship from Yale was $43,939.

The Class of 2020 will include more U.S. citizens or permanent residents who identify as a member of a minority racial or ethnic group (43%), more students who will be the first in their family to graduate from college (15%), more international students (12%), and more students who are planning to major in a science or engineering field (46%) than any previous class in the university’s history. The class was selected from Yale’s largest-ever freshman applicant pool, which saw record numbers of applications in all of the above groups. A detailed profile of the Class of 2020 is available on the undergraduate admissions website, admissions.yale.edu.

Despite their myriad experiences as high school students, the new freshmen all share an impressive record of academic success, extracurricular accomplishment, and community engagement, said Quinlan, noting that admitted students have reached some of the highest possible levels of achievement in the performing arts, scientific research, creative writing, global and community-based service leadership, athletics, entrepreneurship, technology, and political activism.

Members of the freshman class hold patents and run their own businesses. Their scientific pursuits have earned recognition from Intel, FIRST Robotics, the Siemens Foundation, Google, and Apple. They have performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center. They have designed software that thousands of people use around the world. Their activism has spurred the creation of new academic courses, new laws, and new international organizations. Their writing has reached thousands of people through international publications and prestigious award programs. They have won state, regional, and national athletic competitions. Many have balanced their academic and extracurricular pursuits with extensive paid work experiences and caregiving responsibilities to support their families.  

The new freshmen have also demonstrated a broad-ranging curiosity for the liberal arts. When applying, students were invited to list up to three Yale majors that fit their academic interests or goals. More than 95% of students chose to list multiple majors, and 73% of students listed majors that spanned two or more of the following academic categories: humanities & arts, life sciences, physical sciences & engineering, and social sciences. Of Yale’s 80 undergraduate majors, 70 were listed as a first choice.

Joining the new freshmen are 24 new transfer students and 7 nontraditional undergraduates admitted through the Eli Whitney Students Program. The new transfer students will join the classes of 2018 and 2019 having begun their higher education at 21 different colleges and universities, including 5 community colleges. Four of the new Eli Whitney Students are veterans, having served in the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy.

New students will receive an extensive orientation over the next several days that includes a welcome address from Salovey and Holloway, a special reception for first generation college students and their families, open houses in the residential colleges, and dozens of events hosted by campus communities to welcome students to Yale.

Here's a quick look at the sights and sounds of move-in day for the Yale College Class of 2020.
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