By Page Forrest
As of September 6, the Class of 2020 has approximately 515 members. However, until the class census is completed on September 13, the college cannot calculate the exact number of students. Waiting until then allows time for freshmen who have already dropped out to be factored into the final form data. This year’s new class is the largest ever, an increase from the final number of 469 last year.
The class is 50.4 percent women, 49.6 percent male, a near-perfect balance not often reflected in liberal arts colleges’ populations. 16.5 percent of the freshmen are students of color, up from 16 percent last year. Additionally, 18 members of the class of 2020 are international students, from Jordan, Myanmar, China, Italy, Germany, Finland, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, and Hungary.
Out of all the numbers, the data that excites the Associate Dean of Admissions Lisa Burns the most is the class of 2020’s yield rate. Yield rate refers to the total percentage of accepted students who end up coming to a college. 4,423 students applied to Sewanee last year, and 43 percent of those students were accepted. Out of the admitted 43 percent, 27 percent chose to come to Sewanee.
“That’s an increase from 25.6 percent last year,” Burns explains. “It means their visit experience was great, that they had a stronger connection to us. This is where the community is such a huge help to us – everything from alumni calling prospective students to gatherings for students across the country.”
Burns is optimistic not only about this year’s freshman class, but also what the increased yield rate means for Sewanee. “We’re seeing a greater interest in Sewanee, which allows us to select students who will be the best possible fit for Sewanee. [This class] is connected, engaged. They worked at getting to know us and we worked hard at getting to know them.”
Her enthusiasm is echoed by freshmen. Peter Bahr (C’20) notes, “I feel included in what is turning out to be a fantastic class at Sewanee. We’re ambitious, friendly, and ready to take advantage of all we can on the Domain.”
However, some students worry that increasing class sizes will change Sewanee for the worst. Cameron Mason (C’18) explains, “As class sizes increase, I worry that the class of 2020 won’t be able to cultivate the same intensely personal relationships with professors that so many Sewanee students cherish.”
Burns wants to reassure students that Sewanee will not dramatically increase in size anytime soon. “Sewanee is not drastically changing its class size, the goal is 500 for each incoming class, with 15-20 transfers. There’s nothing to be worried about.” When informed that many students equate the lack of parking spaces with growing numbers, Burns remarked “Maybe it’s just that more students are bringing their cars?”
After the census has been finalized, complete data on the Class of 2020 will be available online. While rising numbers may still worry some, increased interest in Sewanee will most likely prove to benefit the school in the long run.