Social and savvy, a record-breaking new class arrives
Perhaps you already know that Kenyon had a record number of applications this year and a record low admittance rate. And you may have heard that the newest class features increased diversity and is composed of equal numbers of men and women. But did you know that the Class of 2008 is remarkably social, well organized, and technologically savvy?
Those are some of the conclusions one might draw from the Web site set up this summer by enrolled first-years eager to meet each other electronically. They not only exchanged e-mail addresses and began corresponding with one another, but they also organized themselves according to residence-hall assignment.
Among the members of the newest class arriving on campus this week are a young woman who raised a thousand dollars for charity through sales of her CD; a young man who placed second on Teen Jeopardy; a gospel singer-pianist who recently tried out for American Idol (results unknown at press time); a Gates and a Disney scholar; a pair of swimming twins; and a Ukrainian-born immigrant who is the sole female member of the New York State championship chess team.
From these young people and others, the Office of Admissions received nearly 3,800 applications in 2003-04, an increase of 13 percent from the previous year. Over the past four years, the College has seen a remarkable 90 percent rise in applications. The admittance rate fell to a record low of 38 percent, down from 44 percent last year and 66 percent four years ago. The percentage of admitted students choosing to enroll at Kenyon rose to a four-year high of 32.5 percent.
"Clearly, Kenyon is the first choice of increasing numbers of top students," says Jennifer D. Britz, dean of admissions and financial aid. "We were taken by surprise by the increase in interest-in terms of regular decision as well as the dramatic increase in early decision applicants."
Indeed, early decision applicants increased by 28 percent from the previous year, registering a 52 percent rise over the last four years. Early decision applicants will compose 36 percent of the Class of 2008, a historic high.
Kenyon achieved a nearly 50-50 gender ratio with the incoming class: of the 473 applicants who sent deposits, 234 were men and 239 were women. This compares to 54 percent women and 46 percent men in the Class of 2007. Gender balance has presented a tough challenge for selective liberal-arts colleges in recent years.
Students of color compose 13 percent of the class, up from less than 10 percent in recent years, including fifteen African-Americans, eighteen Asian-Americans, seventeen Latino/Hispanic-Americans, two multicultural students, and four Native Americans.
The academic qualifications of the class remain high. Average SAT scores of 673 verbal and 648 math are virtually identical to last year's class, as is the average ACT score of 29. The average unweighted high-school GPA was 3.73, with 50 percent of incoming first-year students graduating in the top 10 percent of their class.
Thirty-two members of the class are first-generation college students. The class also includes sixty-one legacies, loosely defined as relatives of those who attend or have attended Kenyon.
All geographical regions of the country, and nearly all the states, are sending students to Kenyon this fall. Nine percent of the class hails from New England, 31 percent from the Middle Atlantic states, 8 percent from the South, 15 percent from the Midwest excluding Ohio, 19 percent from Ohio, and 14 percent from the West and Southwest. Four percent of the class are arriving at Kenyon from other countries, including Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Latvia, Mexico, Moldova, Nepal, Netherland Antilles, Pakistan, People's Republic of China, Romania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Venezuela.
But statistics and noteworthy individuals tell only a piece of the story. Every class has a distinctive character, in the view of Jane Martindell, dean for academic advising, who reads the incoming students' files in advance of their arrival. What stands out this year, she notes, is "the value they place on being 'connected' and the importance to them of community. They speak openly about wanting significant and real connections with people-not the superficial stuff they encounter in their lives most of the time. Many have chosen Kenyon because we value and speak about relationships, and how important they are to our community."