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Diversity and total applications increase

By Hannah Schuster

Section: News

October 14, 2016

The diversity and the overall size of Brandeis’ applicant pool increased this year, according to a presentation on admissions statistics from Andrew Flagel, the senior vice president for students and enrollment, at last Friday’s Faculty Meeting.

The diversity of Brandeis’ first year class has been increasing at all stages of the admissions process. Brandeis is reaching out to more students of color, 49,704 “prospects” in 2016 compared to 34,064 in 2014. This includes students reached by emails and mailings as well as through community partners.

From this, Brandeis received 1,996 applications from students of color, up from 1,509 in 2014. This constitutes a 32.27 percent increase in the number of applications from students of color for the two-year period. Just from 2015 to 2016 there was a nine percent increase in applications from students of color.

Last year, the Ford Hall 2015 movement demanded Brandeis increase the percentage of black students to 15 percent of the school (it was 5.3 percent in 2015, according to university statistics). To this end, Brandeis pledged to “accelerate the trajectory of applications from underrepresented students of color with the goal of 5-10 percent annual increases in applications starting Fall 2017,” the diversity action plan released after Ford Hall states.

The number of underrepresented students accepted increased from 454 to 624 over this two-year period. The yield rate increased as well: 137 of those accepted students chose to attend Brandeis this year compared to 105 in 2014. This marks a four percent increase in the number of students per first year class.

Eight percent of this first-year class is African American (67 students). This is up from seven percent (55 students) in 2009 and has been trending upwards for several years.

The number of Latino students is also increasing, up from four percent (35 students) to seven percent (61 students) this year. There is one first-year who identifies as Native American/Alaskan native. There were five in 2009, and this number has fluctuated around these low levels.

Prof. Anita Hill (WMGS/HS) questioned these “concern[ing]” numbers with the school’s first Indigenous People’s Day approaching, and Prof. Bernadette Brooten (NEJS) proposed increasing recruitment efforts in areas where Native American populations “are less decimated.”

This proves difficult with a small admissions staff, according to Flagel. The team generally concentrates their efforts in higher density areas, Texas and Arizona as opposed to Wyoming and Montana, he explained. There were, however, two Native American students who participated in “SEED” last weekend, he said.

SEED, Students Exploring and Embracing Diversity, is a program that brings students from diverse backgrounds to Brandeis for a weekend to learn about the school and the admissions process. This year’s group of 70 students was the largest ever, said Flagel.

The way Brandeis recruits students has changed, Flagel said. They no longer focus primarily on “suburban and elite private school visits” he said, but reach out to a greater variety of schools and utilize community partner programs like SEED.

“We have made a very concerted effort to diversify the schools that we work with and … to create our outreach to community-based organizations,” said Flagel.

The total number of applications Brandeis receives is increasing. The number rose by seven percent this year to 11,351. This number is up from 6,766 in 2009 and has been increasing by around five percent for the past few years.

With this increase, the number of accepted students, and the size of our first year classes have gotten larger, but Brandeis’ acceptance rate is down, 33.5 percent compared to 42.7 in 2009.

There are 843 students in this entering class, up from 797 in 2009. With the increasing size of first-year classes, there have been more lofted triples—when a double room is configured for three people—in North and Massell Quads and no new housing added.

Class size is down from 2014, when the entering class spiked to 859 students.

In part, this is due to an unexpectedly high number of international students (particularly Chinese students) that accepted a spot at Brandeis in 2014—the class of 2018. Approximately 24 percent of that entering class was international students, compared to 16 percent in 2012, according to a previous admissions presentation. This figure has come back down to 17 percent this year, and international students now comprise 19 percent of total enrollment.

The majority of Brandeis’ international students are from China, but the number of students from other countries is trending upwards, Flagel’s presentation showed.

Overall regional diversity of the school has improved, according to the statistics. Though Brandeis used to be around 70 percent New England and Mid-Atlantic residents, it is now 58 percent.

In addition to student demographics, the university also examined student majors. More students are majoring in the sciences at Brandeis, while fewer choose to study humanities and the creative arts. There are over 2,000 students majoring in social sciences—which includes the Health Science, Society and Policy (HSSP) major and the business major. There are 932 students majoring in the sciences compared in 272 majoring in the humanities and 130 in creative arts.

These numbers add up to more students than are enrolled, as it records data for each of the students’ majors.

The university has implemented fellowship programs to try and both attract humanities students, and convince those accepted to choose Brandeis. There is a new humanities fellowship with Prof. John Burt (ENG).

One first-year was deciding between Brandeis and the University of Chicago but decided on Brandeis after receiving this fellowship.

Brandeis uses these kinds of fellowships to attract the highest caliber students, said Flagel. Brandeis reintroduced “modest merit awards” in 2012. However, it has also started “coupling those awards with academic opportunities,” in some cases. This includes the humanities fellowship, a biochemistry fellowship and the Leonard Bernstein music fellowship.

Flagel affirmed that as the total number of applications increases, the caliber of students remains high. Brandeis is not just getting anyone to sign their name on an application, he said.

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