Larger first-year class arrives on campus

First-year students in the Class of 2021 arrived on campus on Aug. 25.

The 1,580 members of the Class of 2021 have travelled from across the country and around the globe to become the newest members of the Yale community. The Class of 2021, larger than the Class of 2020 by more than 200 students, will be the first to enroll in an expanded Yale College with 14 residential colleges. Some members of the new Class will be inaugural members of Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin Colleges, acting as pioneers who will help to establish new traditions and cultures of these two communities.  

In order to begin filling the two new residential colleges opening this fall, the Admissions Office was tasked with enrolling a class of 1,550 new students, a 15% increase from previous years,” said Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid. “We were pleasantly surprised to have slightly overshot our target thanks to an extremely successful array of on-campus yield programming last April.” The Admissions Office reported an overall yield on admitted students of just over 71%, the second-highest in recent history.

Quinlan noted that the addition of a one-day yield program (Bulldog Saturday) to supplement the traditional three-day Bulldog Days in April allowed for a larger percentage of admitted students than ever before to visit campus before replying to Yale’s offer of admission. “The entire campus really rallied to help the Admissions Office this spring,” said Quinlan. “We look forward to engaging the whole student body again next April to welcome the Class of 2022 to both Bulldog Saturday and Bulldog Days.”

Quinlan reported that growth in the applicant pool over the past several years from highly qualified applicants has allowed the Admissions Office to expand the size of the first-year class with students from wide-ranging backgrounds without making any sacrifices in terms of academic preparation, level of achievement, or personal character. The Class of 2021 was selected from the largest pool of freshman applicants to date.

With the expansion of Yale College, we are thrilled to be able to provide a Yale education to more of the most deserving students from all backgrounds than ever before,” said Marvin Chun, dean of Yale College. “The Class of 2021 will set the tone for a new Yale as they join with our students, faculty, and staff to harness the energy of expansion and growth.”

The Class of 2021 is both the largest and most diverse in Yale’s history. The new first-year students will come to Yale from all 50 states and 60 different countries. Compared to last year’s first-year class, the Class of 2021 will include 126 more U.S. citizens or permanent residents who identify as African American, Asian American, Latinx, or Native American. This year’s class includes 250 students who will be the first in their family to graduate from college, compared to 206 in the Class of 2020. The Class of 2021 also includes 253 students eligible for a federal Pell grant for low-income students, compared to 214 in the Class of 2020.

More than 200 students in the class qualify for a new $2,000 Yale College Start-up Fund, which assists with the purchase of typical college expenses such as a computer or winter clothing. These students, whose parents earn less than $65,000 annually, benefit from financial aid awards with a $0 parental contribution, a reduced summer income contribution, and additional $600 allowances for sophomore, junior, and senior years.

As Yale College expands in size with students from all backgrounds, we look forward to extending our generous need-based financial aid policies to more students than ever,” said Scott Wallace-Juedes, director of Undergraduate Financial Aid. “We are continually committed to making the Yale education accessible and affordable to all of our admitted students.” Last year Yale spent nearly $128 million on need-based financial aid for undergraduates, with an average grant of more than $47,000.

President Peter Salovey and Dean Marvin Chun greet first-year students.
President Peter Salovey and Dean Marvin Chun greet first-year students with help from student move-in day helpers. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

All members of the new first-year class demonstrated an impressive record of academic success, extracurricular accomplishment, and community impact in their applications, at the local, national, and international levels. The Class of 2021 will also arrive at Yale with a broad range of academic interests and goals. When applying, students were invited to list up to three Yale majors that fit their academic interests. More than 97% of students chose to list multiple majors, and 82% 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, 71 were listed as a first choice.

Joining the new freshmen are 26 new transfer students and 6 nontraditional undergraduates admitted through the Eli Whitney Students Program. The new transfer students will join the classes of 2019 and 2020 after beginning their higher education at 24 different colleges and universities, including 4 community colleges. Three of the new Eli Whitney Students are veterans, having served in the Army or Marine Corps.

Members of the Class of 2021 began moving into their rooms in Timothy Dwight, Silliman, Pauli Murray, and Benjamin Franklin colleges, as well as on Old Campus on Aug. 25.

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