When incoming first-year students walk into their residence halls Aug. 18, they’ll meet some fascinating people among their 3,375 classmates.
The Class of 2021 includes a television producer, several published authors and a competitive logroller who has won a world title. Joining them is a nationally ranked ballroom dancer and a teacher of wheelchair ballroom dancing. There’s also a state champion in archery. The current and former presidents of the New York FFA, an intracurricular organization for students interested in agriculture and leadership, are among their ranks. And one freshman became New Jersey’s youngest falconer, at age 14.
The freshman class is the most diverse in the university’s history, continuing a trend of several years. More than a quarter of the class - a record number - self-identify as underrepresented minority students. Nearly half self-identify as students of color. Among enrolling transfer students, 37 percent are students of color.
There’s socio-economic diversity as well. This year, Cornell saw a significant increase in the average need-based grant award from Cornell sources for financial aid recipients among first-year students. The average grant for freshmen was $40,686, an increase from $37,855 in 2016. The average grant for transfer students went up slightly to $38,683, from $38,265.
And 435 first-generation students - the first in their families to attend college - are among the Class of 2021, and more than one-third of the 644 transfer students identify as first-generation.
“We warmly welcome the talented and accomplished new transfer students and Class of 2021 to Cornell,” said Barbara Knuth, senior vice provost. “These newest members of our community have already demonstrated strong leadership, resilience, scholarship and service. They come from varied life experiences, and their perspectives will add greatly to our campus discourse.”
Enrolling students reside in 49 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Based on citizenship, new students represent 46 nations.
In January 2018, more than 60 freshmen will come to campus as part of the First-Year Spring Admission (FYSA) program, which began in January 2016. FYSA students will enroll in spring 2018 in the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and of Arts and Sciences.
Gaining entry into Cornell continues to be an increasingly competitive endeavor, continuing a several-year trend. The Class of 2021 had the highest applicant pool in university history, with 47,039 applications for freshman admission.
It was also the most selective class in university history. With an overall admit rate of 12.7 percent, the university admitted a total of 5,962 applicants. Of those admitted, 56.6 percent made Cornell their college of choice, an increase of nearly 4 percentage points.
“The new undergraduates arriving on campus this fall are truly remarkable,” said Jason Locke, associate vice provost for enrollment. “We wish them well as they embark on this extraordinary journey.”