Skip to main content

Class of 2016 - smart, more diverse, with a female majority

Women make up 52.7 percent of Cornell's incoming Class of 2016, a diverse group of 3,270 freshmen coming from 47 states and 46 countries.

The female majority is the highest number (1,723) and percentage ever of women in Cornell's freshman class. According to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, the highest number of women entering in a previous year was 1,673 in 2011; and the highest prior percentage of women in the entering class was 50.8 percent in 2002.

Cornell received 37,808 applications for admission in 2012, a 3.9 percent increase over the previous year and the most received by any school in the Ivy League. Admissions were more selective than last year, with offers made to 16.6 percent of applicants, compared with 18 percent offered admission in 2011.

There are also more Cornell freshmen with high SAT scores -- 73.4 percent of incoming students scored 650 or higher (out of 800) on the critical reading portion of the test, up from 69.3 percent in 2011; and 84.9 percent scored 650 or higher on the math portion, compared with 83.6 percent of freshmen last year.

"We have recruited, admitted and enrolled in the Class of 2016 a very diverse and academically talented group of students," said Lee H. Melvin, associate vice provost for enrollment.

Overall, there was an increase in students of color -- 39.8 percent of the Class of 2016 identifies as non-Caucasian, compared with 36.4 percent in 2011. African-Americans make up 5.8 percent of the class, down from 6.2 percent in 2011. Also, 0.4 percent of freshmen identify as Native American and 12 percent identify as Hispanic/Latino, both a slight increase over last year. Asian-American students comprise 16.9 percent of the incoming class, compared with 16.4 percent in 2011.

Also shaping the class's diversity: 311 international students -- or 9.5 percent of freshmen -- coming from countries outside the U.S., compared with 9 percent of the entering class in 2010 and 2011.

"Although we are pleased with the diversity of the entering class, the slight decline in African-American enrollment reminds us to stay committed to enhancing our recruitment and yield programs for this highly recruited population," Melvin said.

From within the United States, 29.1 percent of the freshman class is from New York state, followed by 20.9 percent from Mid-Atlantic states and 13.5 percent from far West states, up from 12.4 percent last year. The class also includes students from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The socio-economic diversity of the freshman class is further reflected by the number who attended public schools (66.3 percent, up from 65.6 percent last year), and private/parochial schools (16.2 percent, down from 17.9 percent); and by financial aid figures:

  • 50.4 percent of first-year students in 2011 and 2012 qualified for need-based financial aid.
  • 47.4 percent of freshmen were awarded need-based grant aid this year, compared with 48.6 percent in 2011.
  • The average grant from Cornell sources is $35,687, up from $33,099 in 2011.
  • The average loan offered in aid packages also increased, from $4,600 to $4,744.

For current and historic Cornell enrollment data, see the University Factbook.


Media Contact

Claudia Wheatley