Record applications yield high quality Class of '99

By Sandra Howe
Staff Writer

The 2,140-member Class of 1999 was selected from the largest applicant pool in Boston College's history, but University administrators are heartened by more than the sheer numbers. The quality of the class, they say, reflects targeted recruiting efforts, increasing financial aid and the University's rising academic reputation.

Overall, applications to Boston College rose 9 percent to 16,680, the fourth straight year of growth. Administrators noted another encouraging trend: the increasing diversity among both enrollees and applicants.

"In this year's entering freshman class there are 2,140 interesting tales to be told," said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ, "but some tales might be singled out, such as the largest number of African-Americans in recent history and the continued wide geographic reach of the class."

"The quality of the applicant pool, from top to bottom, is much stronger than even 10 years ago," said Director of Undergraduate Admission John Mahoney Jr., "and the quality of this year's freshman class reflects that."

High SAT scores reflect the general quality of the Class of 1999, increasing slightly from past years with the middle 50 percent range of combined scores between 1140 and 1300. The class covers a wide geographical range, representing over 40 states and 30 foreign countries. California continues to be a strong area of recruitment, although New England states are still quite well-represented, reported Mahoney. As in recent years, there were slightly more women - 53 percent - enrolled in the freshman class, although men comprise 60 percent of the Carroll School of Management's freshman class.

AHANA students comprise 19 percent of the Class of 1999, with African-American students increasing by 26 percent, from 76 in the Class of 1998 to 102 in this year's freshman class - one of the highest totals of enrolled African-Americans in Boston College history. Applications from African-American students have also grown steadily, rising 58 percent overall since 1990 and up 23 percent from last year.

"African-American students have traditionally been one of the most under-represented groups on campus," said Mahoney, "so one of our perennial goals is to actively recruit these students."

Dean of Enrollment Management Robert Lay credited the Admission Office's work of the past several years for the increase and added that, "not only are the numbers higher, but African-Americans in this year's freshman class have more ambitious educational goals than in previous years." Admission Office surveys show they came to BC because of its academic reputation, word of mouth and the high graduation rate, Lay said.

"So, it looks like Boston College has been found by highly talented African-American students who see BC as a means toward achieving their highest career goals," he said.

The early action program continues to be highly successful, according to Lay, with applications up almost 30 percent, from 2,734 to 3,493. Mahoney reports his office has pushed the early application deadline up this year from Nov. 15 to Nov. 1 to "encourage applications from serious students."

"The most selective schools in the country are seeing this trend towards early application, so we are expecting the volume to continue to rise," said Lay. "In response, we are re-engineering all of our processes to give more personal attention to families and handle the increased volume in more efficient ways."

A new financial aid program dedicated to meeting the full financial needs of the top 25 percent of applicants has also increased the quality of students BC enrolls, said Lay, and allows BC to match financial aid offers from universities like Harvard or Cornell.

"BC's renewed commitment to financial aid has given us a great marketing advantage," Mahoney added, "creating greater income diversity in our top students."

Another successful program experiencing growth is the Presidential Scholars Program, with 12 students - who all rank in the top 1 percent of college-bound seniors nationally - enrolled in the Class of 1999. Sixty-six percent accepted BC's offer of admission, according to Mahoney, the highest percentage since the program's inception five years ago. In addition, the Presidential Scholars' average SAT score is 1456, up 77 points from the program's pilot Class of 1995.

Lay noted that the Presidential Scholars chose Boston College over such universities as Duke, Georgetown and Harvard.

Among individual schools, A&S enrolled 66 percent of the class - 1,409 students - while CSOM enrolled 23 percent, or 501 students. Eight percent of the class - 171 students - entered the School of Education, while the remaining 3 percent - 59 students - are enrolled in the School of Nursing. Applications were up by 11 percent and 15 percent in CSOM and SOE, respectively, said Lay.

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