The class of 2016 has broken records again, this time with an impressive yield for Northwestern.
Of the 4,895 admitted students, 43 percent are choosing to enroll this fall.
The 2,086 students who committed to NU are expected to include higher numbers of minority, transfer and international students than in previous years, said Michael Mills, the associate provost for university enrollment.
This is the second year in a row in which NU has seen a 5 percent increase in yield. The class of 2015 had 38 percent of admitted students enroll, and the class of 2014 had 33 percent. Mills said such a large increase is rare.
“I haven’t seen very many instances of back-to-back years with a 5 percentage point increase in yield,” he said. “That’s more or less a once-in-a-career observation, and it happened again this year.”
Mills said NU will take about half a dozen students off the waitlist for Medill because its yield was lower than expected, but no one from the waitlist will be taken from any other school. Last year, no students were taken from NU’s waitlist, he said.
In addition, international student enrollment increased from 6.7 to 7.2 percent last year. African Americans will make up 7.8 percent of the class, a rise from the 7.2 percent for the class of 2015.
The number of Latino students decreased from 9.1 percent last year to 8.6 percent for the incoming class. The number of low-income students who enrolled decreased as well, from 14 percent last year to 13 percent this year.
NU also had more minority applicants this year, Mills said. Classes often lose students over the summer, which Mills said he thinks will increase the incoming class’s diversity percentages. Last year, the class of 2015 lost about 70 students, and Mills said he believes this year’s decrease will be similar.
“It’s slightly more diverse than last year’s,” Mills said. “That’s another aspect of the freshman class that we are thrilled with.”
For the past two years, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has cut the number of admitted students by 800 with the goal of having 2,025 students enroll.
Previous classes were larger, which placed a stress on residence halls and caused individual schools to add class sections and hire more faculty. This year, the class size is smaller, dropping from 2,107 last year to 2,086. Mills said NU plans to take 30 more transfer students than last year.
Overall, he said the incoming class had higher levels of academic rigor in high school, as indicated by grade point averages, test scores, class ranks and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.
Mills said the yield was especially abnormal because though NU accepts higher achieving students, these students receive competing offers from other top-tier schools, placing NU’s yield in jeopardy. Mills said students who have committed to NU may still end up attending other schools if they get off of other schools’ waitlists.
Factors that have contributed to the increasing matriculation at NU include the breadth of social and academic opportunities at NU and the strong groups that host prospective students, plan the Wildcat Days and give tours, Mills said.
Communication sophomore Daniel Flores is a tour guide and said he was excited about the increase in yield. He said Caitlin Smith, assistant director of admissions and tour guide supervisor, told the guides that they were getting positive feedback about their tours on comment cards, and some prospective students even mention specific tour guides in their application essays.
“They really love their tour. They can remember their tour guide vividly,” he said. “They just enjoyed the tour that much and it just made them want to come to Northwestern that much more.”
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions also hosts Wildcat Days for admitted students to visit campus. Spencer Gellman, a member of the class of 2016, came to Evanston from New Jersey to see NU and said his experience at Wildcat Days factored into his decision to attend NU.
“I decided to go to Northwestern because I was in love with the facilities there, the wonderful campus and the strong academic reputation,” Gellman said. “I was definitely impressed by the engineering program. It’s extremely strong at Northwestern.”
Flores said he was glad that NU students got to play a role in recruiting future students.
“We are there to showcase and show how great it is,” he said. “It’s not just the school. We’re trying to put our part in and resonate with a lot of students that are coming to visit.”