New Class of 2016 Breaks Records
Issue   |   Fri, 08/31/2012 - 13:00
Peter Mack '15
As part of the Orientation program for incoming students, first years participated in squad meetings where they discussed issues ranging from race to sexual respect on top of becoming more familiar with their fellow students.

After another year with a record number of applications, the Class of 2016 arrived on campus on a clear summer day, with smiles in anticipation of their bright futures.

“As always, the first day of orientation is a very special one for the Admission Office. As they sit, assembled in Johnson Chapel for the first time — and probable last time until Senior Assembly — I am keenly aware that our new students are on the precipice of the Amherst experience! And, of course, I am eager to see how their diversity of talents and experiences will influence their learning here,” Director of Admissions Katie Fretwell said.

This years class of 462 first-years faced intimidating chances getting into the College. With a record 8,565 applications, the College only accepted 1,100 students, resulting in an acceptance rate slightly under 13 percent. However, first-years weren’t the only ones applying. Transfer students faced an even lower acceptance rate of about five percent acceptance rate. With a record 514 applications, only 22 were accepted, and eventually 13 chose to matriculate at the College.

About 82 percent of the total admitted students for the Class of 2016 graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class, and they post average SAT scores of 717 in critical reading, 716 in math and 715 in writing and an average ACT score of 32. The class is also highly service-orientated.

“Their traditional ‘statistics’ are impressively comparable to recent Amherst classes, but I am particularly impressed with the time and energy this particular class has dedicated to serving others. CCE [Center for Community Engagement], be forewarned,” Fretwell said.

The Class of 2016 is comprised of a wide variety of students, with different geographic, social and economic backgrounds. With a 51:49 male-to-female ratio, this year’s incoming class represents 28 countries, 40 states and the District of Columbia. Ten percent are not US citizens and another four percent hold dual citizenships with the United States and another country. Forty-two percent recognize themselves as American students of color and 15 percent are first-generation college students. They come from 374 different high schools and speak over 30 different languages. Furthermore, approximately 56 percent of the class will receive some form of financial aid from the College, one of the highest figures for a first-year class in the College’s history. Further adding to the diversity of the class are 21 students who decided to take a gap year before coming to Amherst.

However, even with all those differences, the class has bonded quickly, greeting each other with ease and making friends rapidly.

“During orientation, I never observed such a chatty bunch … Their interactive energy is remarkable! This was very obvious on arrival day. I imagine this will be a class that develops a special bond early on that will last through their reunion years,” Fretwell said.