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2,123 Admitted To Class of 1998

By Hyun Soo Kim
News Editor

The Institute has offered admission to a record number of women, 43 percent, to next year's freshman class. Overall, MIT received the highest number of applications since 1988: 7,239 students applied, and 2,123 were admitted. The number of applications from women in the United States increased 27 percent, while applications from U.S. men rose 10 percent.

"Part of the reason for the higher percentage of women is that there were more women in the stronger part of the applicant pool. Also, there were more women applicants overall," said Associate Director of Admissions Elizabeth S. Johnson.

The highest percentage of women admitted to a freshmen class before was 38 percent in 1987, according to Johnson.

"We've done a number of things to recruit more women," Johnson said. The Admissions Office has produced new publications and a video, and started telethons where MIT students call applicants or prospective students.

"Our video has won awards as best college video. ... The goal was to present MIT in a realistic way and try to diffuse the stereotypes. We wanted to show that students who come here are articulate, sociable, and have lives outside the classroom," Johnson said.

"We also think our new publications and video are appealing more to women than to men. Women are less likely to apply when they think that MIT is just for engineering," Johnson added.

Telethons have also helped increase the number of applicants, Johnson said. "It does seem to be important to personalize the communications to the applicants."

In addition, Dean Robert J. Birgeneau of the School of Science wrote a letter to 1,200 of the best female prospects.

Number of applications surged

The overall increase in the number of applicants seems to be part of a national trend. Admissions Director Michael C. Behnke in Tech Talk said, "Some of this is us, and some of it is national. Many other schools have had a substantial increase in applications."

MIT switched to a two-part application this year. The first part of the application which asks for largely biographical data is sent to MIT. The second part of the application, which includes the essay questions, is then sent to the applicant.

The new application helps "to facilitate the flow of data so that we won't be inundated with biographical data on Jan. 1. Most schools now use the two-part application system," Johnson said.

Profile of admitted applicants

Overall, 14 percent of the class are underrepresented minorities -- Mexican American, Native American, African American, and Puerto-Rican -- compared to 13 percent last year. International students represent 6 percent of the newly admitted students. Asian Americans and Spanish Americans, who are not counted as minorities, constitute 28 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

The most popular major among applicants is computer science and electrical engineering (Course VI). However, only 10 percent of female applicants versus 20 percent of male applicants specified their interest in Course VI, according to Johnson.

The academic quality of the admitted applicants remains comparable to the previous freshman class. The mean SAT verbal score is up five points to 651, and the math score is down 5 points to 743; both are out of 800 points.

On the Achievement tests, math stayed the same at 755; english and history score rose by 1 point to 642; and science fell by two points to 694. All these scores are out of a possible 800.

The percentage of high school valedictorians among admitted students is 39, up two percent.

A unique feature of next year's class is that there were more people in the applicant pool who had been home-schooled for all or part of their education, Johnson said. "I think that this is a trend that we'll see for a while," Johnson added.

The class size is estimated at 1,100.