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Class of 1997 Called Statistically Normal

By Kevin Subramanya

Staff Reporter

The statistical profile of the newly admitted Class of 1997 is similar to that of previous years, with academic scores and racial and gender distributions falling within normal fluctuations, according to Associate Director of Admissions Elizabeth S. Johnson.

About the normal number of students were admitted this year -- 2,058 of 6,408 applicants, compared to 2,090 of 6,671 last year.

Valedictorians make up 38 percent of the admitted students with high school class rankings. Ninety-seven percent of those admitted rank within the top 10 percent of their class, Johnson said.

The average Scholastic Aptitude Test math score of admitted students is 747 out of 800, compared to 742 last year. The average SAT verbal score is 638 out of 800, compared to last year's score of 641.

Underrepresented minorities total 14 percent of the admitted class, up from 13 percent last year. The Institute admitted 122 African Americans (6 percent), 16 Native Americans (1 percent), 104 Mexican Americans (5 percent), and 32 Puerto Ricans (2 percent).

In addition, 599 Asian Americans (29 percent), 41 students of Hispanic origin (2 percent), and 132 international students (6 percent) were admitted.

According to John B. Hammond III '84, associate director and coordinator of minority admissions, steps are being taken to increase minority applicants through the MIT Alumni/Ambassador Program. "The mission of MITAAP is to help increase the number of minority students applying and enrolling at MIT. Currently, there are 150 MIT alumni willing to help, even as far back as the class of 1948."

"Last year's 45 percent yield [number enrolled out of those admitted] for black students was the lowest in 10 years," Hammond said. "And, if issues of financial aid and racial tensions do not improve, this figure may decline even further."

The newly admitted class includes 781 females (38 percent), which ties last year's figure for the highest percentage within the past five years. The percentage has fluctuated between 35 and 38 percent in recent years, Johnson said.

There is no affirmative action program for women, but MIT encourages admitted women to attend by holding events like the Campus Preview weekend for women and minorities and a special telethon. Although a smaller proportion of admitted women than men choose to attend, the data shows that women do as well at MIT as men, Johnson said.

Applicants are rated on both the numerical and non-numerical portions of their application. Each portion is given a rating ranging from one to five, with five being the highest.

The numerical index is a computer-generated weighted average of an applicant's academic record compared with that of applicant pools from the three previous years.

A student's non-numerical index is a subjective score based on the applicant's academic style, personal style, and personal accomplishments compared with students in the current applicant pool.

Applicants with a 5-5 index are usually admitted, and applicants with a 1-1 index usually are not. Applicants with scores in the middle of the range are compared with others having similar scores to decide on who will be the best students for MIT.