"... it’s worth noting ... recognition of our students for service to society at large."
The second goal of our strategic plan focuses on the quality of our students and the quality of their experience while at Emory.
Of course, the quality of students coming to Emory continues to delight our faculty and make our community enormously proud. They are among the best in the nation, indeed among the best in the world. We could not ask for better.
At the same time, we want to make certain that the distinctive benefits of an Emory education are more widely known, and in this we know we have work to do—notwithstanding that Emory College of Arts and Sciences currently attracts ten applicants for every position in its entering class. Especially in head-to-head competition with peers such as Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University in St. Louis, we believe that we should be winning more toss-ups than we lose. We can do better in raising the yield of admitted students who determine that Emory is the top choice for them.
To enhance our activities in undergraduate enrollment management, the office of our executive vice president for academic affairs, under the direction of Provost Earl Lewis, is already working in partnership with our four undergraduate deans:
Part of the challenge will be to ensure that, through focused marketing and other means, we continue to be a highly visible and desirable destination for a larger pool of applicants, from whom we shape a class that most contributes to and benefits from the learning environment here.
Emory students, whether as undergraduates or as graduate and professional students, demonstrate a commitment to socially conscious leadership that matches the excellence of their scholarly aptitude. As we have worked to attract and retain these superior students through targeted recruitment, new financial aid opportunities, and innovative programs to enhance professional achievements, we also have worked hard to sustain a campus learning environment second to none.
The past five years have seen an increase in National Merit Scholars and, remarkably, in international students, the latter reaching an all-time high of 12 percent of the first-year undergraduate class this year. At the same time, both our six-year graduation rate and our first-year retention rate have increased to record highs of 90 percent and 96 percent, respectively.
2010 Marshall Scholar Shivani Jain
Several students describe their experiences at Emory and how it was made possible by Emory Advantage—a financial aid program designed to make college affordable for all.
Well before the economic downturn in 2008, Emory had launched the Emory Advantage Program, aimed at reducing the indebtedness with which students graduate. Now fully implemented, that program provided awards to 668 new students in the last year alone. The average need-based grant now covers 62 percent of the total cost of attending Emory, compared to an average of 52 percent in 2005.
Working to counter the perception that education at private institutions may be out of reach for many families, Emory has continued to make it a priority to recruit students from every economic stratum, and the percentage of Emory students on Pell Grants—federal support for low-income students—is among the highest at any private research university in the country.
Our individual schools have demonstrated their particular attractiveness as well. Oxford College, for instance, is experiencing the happy consequences of a growing reputation, enrolling its largest first-year class ever this year. With its largest representation of international students, its liberal arts–intensive program, and its renown for having a strong community of faculty, staff, and students, Oxford is undertaking to implement a new curriculum in order to position itself for greater international impact.
Similarly, the School of Nursing has demonstrated its unique strengths through a new accelerated degree program for students with bachelor’s degrees in a non-nursing discipline. In its first year, this program generated nearly four times as many applications as there were spaces. Students in the program say that what attracts them is the school’s commitment to incorporating social responsibility into the curriculum.
In this vein, it is worth noting a further recognition of the sort that seems to come Emory’s way every year—recognition of our students for service to society at large. This year, that recognition came in the announcement that Emory ranks among the top ten medium-sized universities contributing the greatest number of graduating seniors to Teach for America.