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Record Number of Admittees, Women Join Class of 1999

By David D. Hsu
News Editor

More people accepted by MIT chose to attend the Institute this year than in any of the last 10 to 15 years, according to Assistant Director of Admissions Lisa J. Oliveira '90. Fifty-three percent of accepted students chose to join the 1,130 students in the Class of 1999.

The Admissions Office did not anticipate the increased matriculation rate, Associate Director of Admissions for Information Service and Research Elizabeth S. Johnson said. "We plan on a one percent increase" each year in admissions calculations, she said.

Over the last ten years, the percentage of admitted students enrolling did not rise above about 51 percent, Johnson said.

Reputations help yield

Johnson attributes the increase to "a lot of different things." The strong reputations of biology and other science majors, along with the popular engineering majors, attracted many students, she said. Recent news stories about the Institute also generated positive publicity, she said.

This year's high enrollment rate comes from a record applicant pool of nearly 8,000 students, Oliveira said.

The Admissions Office expects the yield to return to lower numbers for the Class of 2000. "We don't expect things to continue," Oliveira said. Already, "application requests are down this year," she said.

To offset the increased matriculation, fewer transfer students could be accepted, Oliveira said. Only 16 students, about half of the previous year, were accepted as transfers this year, she said.

Women attend in record numbers

A record number of women, forty-two percent, enrolled this year, eclipsing last year's record by two percent, Johnson said.

According to Oliveira, the Admissions Office's only goal this year was to create a freshman class composed of forty percent female students.

The record female population at MIT reflects nationwide trends of women's increased interest in science and engineering, Johnson said. The Admissions Office found women applicants to be well-qualified, "more so than their male counterparts," Oliveira said.

The office made a strong effort to encourage women to enroll, Johnson said. Both Dean of theSchool of Science Robert J. Birgeneau and Electrical Engineering and ComputerScience Department Head Paul L. Penfield Jr. ScD '60, wrote letters to prospective female students, Johnson said. Telethons and letters from Admission Office interns also helped to recruit women, she said.

Minority enrollment drops

A record 360-plus students attended Campus Preview Weekend, Oliveira said. Campus Preview Weekend is a chance for admitted women and minorities to visit the Institute during the school year.

According to survey information, students definitely felt that Campus Preview Weekend affected their decision whether or not to attend MIT, Oliveira said.

The number of underrepresented minorities who accepted offers of admission decreased slightly from 15 percent last year to 14 percent, Johnson said. Last year's minority count was one of the highest ever, Oliveira said. The number of Asian-Americans also dropped 1 percent from last year to 28 percent, Johnson said.