EVANSTON, Ill. – The enrollment deposits for the Class of 2015 have been received, and Northwestern University will have much to celebrate when its newest students make their triumphant March Through the Arch soon after arriving on campus next fall.
As part of the tradition, the freshmen, led by the Northwestern
University Wildcat Marching Band and cheered on by current Northwestern
students, will march through the historic arch to a rally in Deering
Meadow, where the whole class will be photographed and welcomed to an
indisputably “hot” university.
Take the improvement in yield (percentage of admitted students who
actually enroll), which was 38.7 percent this year, up from 33.4 percent
last year, and 30.9 percent two years ago.
“The striking jump in yield is all the more impressive when you
consider that the vast majority of our students were also admitted to
several other elite private schools and, thus, had wonderful choices,”
said Mike Mills, associate provost for university enrollment.
“Increasingly, students are choosing Northwestern for its uniqueness
among the nation’s top schools.”
The jump in the yield followed a 25 percent increase in early
decision applications of students who took themselves off the market to
commit to only Northwestern if accepted. And the total number of
applications -- 30,975 -- was 12 percent higher than last year and
nearly double the number received in fall 2005 (16,228). Accordingly,
only 18 percent of applicants were admitted this year, versus 23.10
percent last year.
And 99 of the 2,149 students enrolled in the Class of 2015 are
Chicago-area residents who are the first to benefit from the Good
Neighbor, Great University program. Designed to make Northwestern more
affordable to talented, but economically challenged students from
Evanston and Chicago, the program was initiated by Northwestern
President Morton Schapiro.
President Schapiro, a leading researcher in the economics of higher
education, previously was the president of Williams College, one of the
country’s best liberal arts colleges. Doing as much as possible to bring
homegrown talent into the Northwestern family has been a top priority
during the two years he has been leading Northwestern. That process has
helped to achieve another top priority – the enrollment of classes as
diverse as they are capable.
The Class of 2015 represents 50 states and 32 countries; 7.2 percent
(6.9 percent last year) of the students are African American; 9 percent
(8.2 percent last year) are Hispanic; 7 percent are international
students; 7 percent are multilingual; and 19 percent come from families
who are first-generation Americans. Ninety-one percent of the admitted
students were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes, and 14
percent are Pell Grant recipients.
The strategic process now underway to articulate Northwestern’s
comparative advantages and serve as a blueprint for a forthcoming
capital campaign amplifies one of the University’s biggest draws -- its
intense focus on undergraduate education. Northwestern has carved out a
niche as an elite research university that is “obsessed” with providing a
broad, rich undergraduate education.
Mills argues that part of Northwestern’s uniqueness stems from the
existence of six undergraduate schools, rather than one or two, which is
the norm at most of Northwestern’s peer schools. Northwestern, he said,
has “a culture of cross-school collaboration between faculty and
students that you just don’t see at a lot of other places.”
Students may pursue focused study with leading scholars, scientists
and artists and immerse themselves in projects in the laboratory, the
library or the studio, on campus or around the world. And students,
themselves, increasingly are winning big awards, including Rhodes and
Churchill scholarships, as they take advantage of the University’s
diverse offerings, from a leading journalism school, to innovative
engineering and writing programs to unparalleled undergraduate research
opportunities in every one of Northwestern’s schools.
The Northwestern “model” draws “quick-witted, sharp, creative” people
and meshes well with what is needed to succeed in a shifting economy,
Mills said. He pointed to “The World is Flat,” the book in which Thomas
Friedman outlines skill sets that college graduates will need to succeed
in the new Information Economy, citing the ability to collaborate,
orchestrate, synthesize, explain, leverage and adapt. “This is precisely
the kind of education Northwestern provides,” Mills said, noting that
Friedman spoke at President Schapiro’s inauguration.
As proof, Mills said, one need only look at some of our more famous
graduates, including Andrew Mason (Groupon Founder); Will Butler
(founder of Grammy Award-winning Arcade Fire); Stephen Colbert (wildly
popular satirist); Mary Zimmerman (theatre director extraordinaire,
Northwestern professor); Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Julia Louis-Dreyfus
(of Seinfeld fame); Heather Headley (Tony Award-winning, Grammy
Award-winning singer, songwriter); Seth Meyers (head writer for
“Saturday Night Live”); Michael Wilbon (ESPN commentator); and Kelly
O’Donnell (NBC News political reporter).
Perhaps the big banner that hangs from the arch that the new students
will march through in the fall is the best reminder of what the Class of
2015 is getting into at Northwestern. The banner proudly waves
congratulations to recent Nobel Prize winner Dale Mortensen, the Ida C.
Cook Professor of Economics in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts