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Women Make Up 45 Percent of Admittees

By Shang-Lin Chuang
Associate News Editor

Women make up a record 45 percent of the 2,102 students admitted to the Institute for the Class of 1999. The applicant pool this year also reached an all-time high of nearly 8,000 students.

Under-represented minorities - defined by MIT as Mexican American, Native American, African American, and Puerto-Rican - made up 9 percent of the applicant pool and 14 percent of the accepted students.

Ultimately, MIT hopes to enroll about 1,080 new undergraduate students. "Since we had more applications, the admit rate decreased," said Elizabeth S. Johnson, associate director of admissions.

"It's very tough taking calls from people who did not get in and who might have in a different year," Johnson said.

Johnson attributed the increase to a number of factors, including new publications, an MTV-style recruiting video, and more outreach from faculty and the Admissions Office. "MIT had some reasonably favorable publicity during the year," Johnson said.

She added that "Boston's winter was not bad."

MIT encourages women, minorities

The Institute increased its outreach to all applicants, but especially to women and minority students, Johnson said. "As part of MIT's affirmative action policy we try to admit minorities if we feel they will succeed here," she said.

MIT produced a new video, viewed by applicants who visit the campus or attend meetings at high schools where MIT actively recruits. "The video attempts to give viewers a feeling for MIT from the student's point of view, both the work involved as well as the opportunities that can be found here," Johnson said. "The video attempts to address stereotypes that people have about MIT."

In addition, Professor Robert J. Birgeneau, dean of the School of Science, sent a letter to female applicants, writing about his daughter who attended MIT.

"I know from her firsthand that MIT is a wonderful place for a bright, ambitious young woman to obtain an undergraduate education. We are very proud of the academic performance of our women students at MIT," Birgeneau wrote.

Although studies have shown that MIT women perform as well as MIT men, in terms of grades, "MIT is still not as easily thought of as a potential college for women," Birgeneau said.

"Engineering as a profession has a lower percentage of women than any other, and we think MIT women can change that," Johnson said.

Profile of admitted applicants

The applicant pool increased by 816 students to a total of 7,955 this year. The increase, combined with 32 fewer acceptances, led to an overall acceptance rate of 26 percent, down from 30 percent last year.

The academic quality of the admitted students remains comparable to last year. While the mean SAT math score is up four points to 747 out of 800, the mean SAT verbal score dropped two points to 649 out of 800.

89 percent of the accepted students are in top five percent of their high school class, the same percentage as last year. 38 percent of them are valedictorians, only one percent lower than last year.

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is the intended academic home of 19 percent of the admitted students. Last year 17 percent of the admitted students intended to major in EECS.