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Incoming class represents many faces of diversity

The 2010 entering freshman class at Cornell is "incredibly diverse," representing 42 countries and 49 states.

"Cornell continues to attract students from all over the world and from diverse socio-economic backgrounds," said Doris Davis, Cornell's associate provost for admissions and enrollment. "The first-year and transfer students are exceptionally talented."

International students represent 9 percent of the Class of 2014, from countries that include Austria, Botswana, Croatia, Ecuador, Ireland, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, to name a few.

Of the students from the United States, almost one-third are from New York state, followed by 20 percent from the Mid-Atlantic region.

The class represents socio-economic diversity as well. More than half of all incoming freshmen qualified for need-based financial aid, and the university awarded grants averaging $30,682 to 48 percent of the class. A large majority -- 70 percent -- attended public high schools.

Cornell students continue to be academically superb, as evidenced by SAT scores, Davis said. About 70 percent of the first-year students scored 650 or higher out of 800 on the SAT's critical-reading section; 85 percent scored 650 or higher on the math section.

The university no longer reports class rank, since less than 35 percent of the class is from high schools that provide rank. "We have found that this information is increasingly irrelevant," Davis said.

There is also a difference this year in how the university reports racial and ethnic backgrounds, in response to a change in how the federal government collects such information from educational institutions. Starting this fall, Hispanic students who say they also belong to another racial or ethnic group will be reported as "Hispanic." Previously, these students were reported as "bi/multicultural underrepresented minority." Because of this change, it will not be possible to compare fall 2010 data for Hispanic and bi/multiracial underrepresented minority students with data compiled in prior years, Davis said.

More than 33 percent of the class identify themselves as students of color this year. That includes Hispanic and Latino students of any race, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, bi/multiracial underrepresented minorities, Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans.

Asian-Americans, at 15 percent, make up the largest of those groups, followed by Hispanics and Latinos of any race with 10 percent. African-Americans are the third largest racial or ethnic group at 5 percent of the class. Bi/multiracial Americans make up 3 percent, while bi/multicultural underrepresented minorities comprise 2 percent. With 0.5 percent, Native Americans are the class' smallest ethnic group. About 10 percent of the class did not report a racial or ethnic background.

Highlights of the Class of 2014 (statistics as of July 9) include:

  • 3,229 entering freshmen;
  • 50 percent male, 50 percent female;
  • 14 percent "legacies" (children of alumni);
  • 7 percent recruited athletes; and
  • 2 percent children of faculty or staff.

Three-quarters of Cornell's 542 incoming transfer students will attend the ILR School and the undergraduate schools of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Human Ecology. Most of those students, or 40 percent, are transferring from other New York state colleges and universities. Cornell awarded 35 percent of the transfer students an average of $28,369 in need-based grants.

For more information on previous Cornell classes, visit


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Joe Schwartz