EVANSTON, Ill. --- A host of upperclassmen were on hand to greet the new class of freshmen and help them get settled during move-in day, the always exciting kickoff of a whirlwind of activities that make up Wildcat Welcome week.
But it is the official Wildcat Welcome spectacle tomorrow, Sept. 16, that will give the entire Northwestern community a chance to celebrate the Class of 2018 as they parade through the University’s iconic Weber Arch to the triumphant sounds of the Wildcat Marching Band and the cheers, chants and applause of family and Northwestern community members.
After pep talks in Deering Meadow by Northwestern President Morton Schapiro and other University officials, the Class of 2018 will head down to Millennium Park for the Purple Pride! event to get a taste of what Chicago has to offer.
Northwestern’s relationship with Chicago is central to the University’s strategic goal to engage with the community, whether through collaborations with leading research institutions such as Argonne National Laboratory or with the Art Institute, the Adler Planetarium or the world- renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
“This fall we will enroll the most academically qualified -- and the most diverse -- freshman class in Northwestern’s history,” President Schapiro said.
The 33,688 applications received for the strongest academic class in Northwestern’s history set a new record -- with applications rising for the 11th consecutive year. Ninety-one percent of the freshmen represent the top decile of their high school classes, and 249 National Merit Scholars make up 12 percent of the incoming class.
Twenty-three percent of the class is African-American and Latino, a new record for Northwestern. The class also includes 73 graduates of Chicago Public Schools, 182 international students from 55 countries and 75 valedictorians of their high school class.
“Too many people assume, incorrectly, that pursuing academic excellence means somehow sacrificing diversity -- socioeconomic, racial and ethnic,” said Michael Mills, associate provost for University enrollment. “The Class of 2018 proves them wrong in a very powerful way.\"
Northwestern applications continue to increase each year, rising by more than 10,000 since 2007, when the University admitted 27 percent of all applicants. For nine consecutive years, early decision applications also have been on the rise, with an almost 15 percent increase in early applications this year.
Most importantly, the talented, multidimensional freshmen represented by those one-dimensional statistics will have a chance to pursue multiple interests in a University that goes to great lengths to provide highly diverse opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.
Integrating learning and experience in and outside the classroom and increasing co-curricular opportunities here and abroad are major goals of Northwestern’s strategic plan.
The sheer number of classes and the flexibility of the curriculum across Northwestern’s three campuses in Evanston, Chicago and Qatar offer students unparalleled classroom opportunities for defining and developing their ambitions.
The classroom experience is deepened by a variety of experiential learning opportunities that, too, cross disciplines and continents.
“Northwestern is a top-tier research institution with diverse schools that lead in the sciences and the humanities as well as in journalism, the fine arts, performing arts, engineering, business, law and medicine,” Mills said.
Students with highly diverse interests regularly come together in creative collaborations, whether in seminars, classes, fieldwork or in informal ways.
“You’ve got the trombonists interacting with the chemical engineers who interact with drama, theater and dance majors, who interact with the social-policy-change-the-world types, and so on,” Mills added.
Two-thirds of Northwestern students graduate with more than one major -- with a double major or a major, minor and a certificate or various other combinations of studies -- sometimes in completely different fields.
“Northwestern attracts students who are both creative and analytical and provides a left-brain, right-brain type of education that provides plenty of opportunities for them to explore multiple interests,” added Christopher Watson, dean of undergraduate admissions at Northwestern.
The numbers of Northwestern undergraduates doing research and creative projects continue to grow each year in just about every field of study, whether in a study of high-mass star formation with an astronomy professor or in a visit to the former Soviet Union to interview people who, as children, spent time in forced labor camps.
“Northwestern students get broad exposure to what is relevant in our global world,” Watson said. “They get an education that prepares them well for a variety of careers.”
For example, Northwestern’s pioneering global health minor is producing graduates who go on to tackle international public health problems through medicine, public policy and research.
The major fellowship competitions that Northwestern undergraduates, graduate students and alums increasingly win strongly indicate the high quality of teaching and undergraduate research opportunities available at the University.
“Attracting and nurturing people who are able to think creatively as well as analytically is a hallmark of the Northwestern brand,” Mills said. “With the dramatic shifts in the economy and workplace, such skills are especially critical for success today.”