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Freshman Class Said to be Strongest in BC History

(9-22-99) - If this year's freshman class initially attracted attention for the quantity of its applicants, University administrators say the bigger story is its quality and diversity.

Applications for the Class of 2003 totaled a record 19,746, a 21 percent increase over last year. But enrollment administrators say the 2,284-member class also is the strongest academically in Boston College history.

Seventy-nine percent of the class had SAT scores of 1200 or higher, and the combined middle 50 percent range of SAT scores continued to climb, from 1200-1340 three years ago to this year's range of 1210-1360.

"These figures are clear evidence of Boston College's attractiveness to top students across the country," said Director of Undergraduate Admission John Mahoney Jr.

"Private universities have become the preferred destination for top students in the US," added Dean for Enrollment Management Robert Lay. "They clearly value a high-quality education in an independent academic institution. The interest in BC we are seeing, as shown by the application numbers, certainly reflects that trend.

"But it also reflects the value students and their families assign to the Catholic and Jesuit education BC offers," he said.

Another continuing trend is the decade-long increase in AHANA student enrollment. AHANA students comprise nearly 24 percent of this year's freshman class, surpassing the previous high-water mark of 20 percent last year and in 1996.

Applications from African-Americans have increased 90 percent since 1994, and 1999 marks the fifth consecutive year that 100 or more African-American students have enrolled. This year's growth in the AHANA freshman student population also reflects a 33 percent increase among Asian-American students and a 31 percent rise in the number of Hispanic students.

Also on the rise are numbers of enrolled students who applied through the early action program, in which prospective students submit applications by Nov. 1 and receive a decision by the end of December. This year's freshmen includes 672 early action students, who comprise a little over 29 percent of the class, compared to 26 percent (574 students) of the 1997-98 freshman class.

The Presidential Scholars Program, which brings some of the nation's most accomplished high school students to BC, enjoyed a greater-than-expected increase this year as well. Because of a rise in the yield among top prospects, 19 new students were enrolled as Presidential Scholars, the largest number of freshmen in the program's 10-year history. Five of the new Presidential Scholars are AHANA students, Lay added, and seven are alumni of Jesuit high schools.

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