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STANFORD -- It's official now: For the first time in Stanford's history since World War II, the incoming class has more freshwomen than freshmen, according to figures released by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Of the 1,589 new members of the Class of '98 arriving on The Farm this Thursday, Sept. 22, 803, or 50.5 percent, are women, compared with 786, or 49.5 percent, who are men. Just five years ago, in 1989, the entering freshman class was 45 percent female.
"It's a marked contrast to when I started here," said John Bunnell, associate dean and director of freshman admissions, who has worked in the admissions office since 1963. He attributed the increase to a growth in applications from well-qualified women over the years, and to the fact that female students accept offers of admission to Stanford at a higher rate than men.
[Stanford was one of the few co-educational universities in the nation when it opened in 1891, and by 1899, women made up 40 percent of the university's undergraduate population. However, fearing that the school would develop a reputation as a women's college - and not be a fitting memorial to her son - founder Jane Stanford ordered the enrollment of women limited to 500. The restriction was dropped in 1933; however, except for the years of the world war, even as late as 1969 male undergraduate enrollment outnumbered female enrollment at Stanford 2 to 1.]
Stanford's overall yield rate - the percentage of admitted freshmen who decided to enroll this fall - held steady this year at about 54 percent, similar to yield rates at Princeton and Yale, but considerably lower than the yield rate of 78 percent "for that other university in Cambridge," Bunnell said.
However, almost all indices of academic achievement are up this year: 78 percent of the incoming Stanford freshmen had high school grade point averages of 3.8 to 4.0 (up 5 percent over last year), 26 percent had verbal SAT scores of 700 or higher (up 4 percent over last year), and 62 percent had math SAT scores of 700 or higher (up 3 percent over last year).
Competition was especially fierce this year for the academic "cream of the crop," Bunnell said. For example, of 203 admittees identified as President's Scholars - those with exceptional academic promise - just 58 decided to enroll, despite major efforts to attract them.
"We're making progress, but we have to do more. The competition for well-qualified students is keener than ever," Bunnell said. "We recognize that we cannot sit back and have students come to us. We need to make sure that we are proactive."
The university's Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aids will be presenting a report to the Faculty Senate this fall highlighting the past year's efforts to improve the yield rate, he added.
The incoming members of the Class of 1998 were selected from 14,609 applicants, a 7 percent increase over the previous year. Admission was offered to 2,942 applicants, or 20 percent of the total (see box).
The class includes representatives from all states except West Virginia. California continues with the largest representation among entering freshmen, with 45 percent (up 3 percent over last year), followed by Texas, New York, Washington, Illinois and New Jersey. Eighty-three of the freshmen (5 percent) are international students representing 31 foreign countries.
African American, Mexican American, American Indian and Asian American students make up 45 percent of the freshman class - about the same overall total as last year - with the number of African Americans dipping 2 percent and Asian Americans rising 2 percent.
Stanford also has a record 153 undergraduates enrolling this year who have transferred from other schools (compared to 120 last year). Of these, 76 percent are coming from four-year colleges and universities, the rest are from community colleges.
Nineteen percent of the new transfers have SAT scores of 700 or higher, and 52 percent have math SATs of 700 or higher. A record 37 percent of the new transfer students are either African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians or Asian Americans.
Staff members in Stanford's Office of Undergraduate Admissions now are preparing for the next round of applicants by visiting high schools and hosting regional information meetings across the country.
Applications for the class entering in 1995 are due on Dec. 15. More information may be obtained by calling the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at (415) 723-2091.
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