World-Class Arrivals: First-year Students Unite as One of WC’s Most Diverse Incoming Classes

Freshmen move into their campus housing on Thursday morning. Peer mentors are on the scene, ready and waiting to offer a helping hand to new students and parents.
By Emily Blackner and Lindsay Haislip
News Editors

The incoming Washington College Class of 2016 finally arrived on campus this week, bringing (in addition to many boxes and bags) a strong group of diverse students to kick off the 2012-2013 academic year. The new class brings 403 new faces to campus out of the total 2,974 who were granted admission.
With a 66 percent admission rate, this is one of the College’s most selective application years. A more selective process brings a highly qualified group, with 33 new Presidential Fellows in the freshman class. The average high school GPA is 3.47, a bit down from last year’s, but in line with previous years. The average SAT total score for the Class of 2016 followed suit at 1159.

The numbers are consistent with national statistics, with more women attending universities than men. The incoming class will bring 176 men and 231 women from all over the world—a ratio of 43 percent to 57 percent. The class’s members represent 21 states and 15 countries. This means 7 percent of new first-year students are international citizens—almost double last year’s number.

Vice President for Admissions & Enrollment Management Kevin Coveney said, “More similar to than different from the preceding four classes, this year’s does have the distinction of being our most international class in many, many years. The 28 young men and women from 15 nations will bring considerable diversity to academic and campus life at WC.”

The country with the most representation is China, with nine students, followed by Saudi Arabia with four students. Other nations represented include Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Morocco, and South Korea.

These international students arrived for a special orientation program running Aug. 20 through 22, where they got to know each other and the WC campus. The peer mentor guiding them through this process was junior Emily Hall, who volunteered for the position because of personal experience studying abroad in Germany in eighth grade.

She found her mentees to be eager for the semester to officially begin. “They are excited to get involved in clubs and things, like sports, music, and dancing,” she said. “I’ve had those conversations, and their enthusiasm is contagious. I’m really grateful to have had this experience. They’re so full of potential; I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.”

Of course, college is about learning in addition to clubs. These students will have the chance to learn not only about life on campus, but in America as well.

“They are just excited to be in America, and want to learn about American culture,” Hall said. “Already a lot of the American students have been really welcoming.”

Among the 375 American students in the incoming class, 165 come from Maryland, which has traditionally been the state with the most representation; however, this year in-state residents account for just 40 percent of the class, increasingly lower compared to previous years. Pennsylvania brings the second largest group of students, with 61, closely followed by New Jersey with 59 students. Other states with larger representation include New York, Delaware, Virginia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

“The overall increase in out-of-state enrollments was primarily generated by increases in Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania,” said Coveney. “Members of the admissions staff responsible for these areas did an effective job of targeting their recruiting activities and communicating with their students.”

The Student Government Associate has been hard at work preparing to welcome students, including the incoming class, back to campus. SGA President Zach Pandl had the opportunity to interact with the new class during Summer Advising.

“The best word that I would use to describe the Class of 2016 is ‘spunky’,” Pandl said. “They were fun to interact with and not as shy and cautious as other classes I have met.”

SGA Vice President Carly Ogren echoed Pandl’s remarks. “They seem excited about coming to college, getting involved, and pursuing success,” she said.
Pandl said that he noticed a great deal of feedback and interest from a survey polling student interest in clubs and organizations emailed to the incoming class relating to Student Government, clubs sports, and political organizations.

The beginning of each academic year is always an exciting time for the campus and community to come together and welcome an excited and anxious group of new faces to WC. This year’s diverse group means new perspectives and unique continental and global connections that will continue to enrich campus life.
Hall’s advice for new students was simple. She said, “Don’t be afraid to start conversations and find commonalities.

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