This year’s class of UConn freshmen has set yet another record, becoming the class with the most incoming valedictorians and salutatorians in UConn’s history. In addition to a total of 181 valedictorians and salutatorians, the class also set a record in terms of diversity: with 37 percent of students coming from minority backgrounds, according to the Hartford Courant. In addition to Connecticut, 43 states plus Puerto Rico and 22 countries are represented geographically.
These statistics, coupled with a record high number of 36,000 total applications, signal that UConn is becoming a more diverse and an academically competitive place to study. Although the average SAT reading and math score of freshmen was just one point lower than last year’s 1234, the average SAT scores of the incoming class has increased steadily over the past 20 years – beginning from 1018 in 1996 and then 1140 in 2000, according to a graphic from UConn Today.
UConn has been following a trend of increasing academic competiveness and diversity year in and year out, which benefits incoming and current students, alumni and the state of Connecticut alike. It also highlights the importance of funding and impact of renewed investments in the university, both public and through sources such as the UConn Foundation.
As UConn continues to bolster its academic and research reputation, affordability and the enrollment of in-state students should continue to be priorities. Although ranked 18th in best value among other public universities according to Time’s Money magazine for 2016, UConn tuition is at an all time high of $11,224 for in-state students and $33,016 for out-of-state students, which is excluding fees that make up much of the total cost of attendance. According to UConn Today, UConn cites strong financial aid packages as a main strategy of how they have drawn students. Although the high school Connecticut population is decreasing, approximately 90 percent of the 181 valedictorians and salutatorians are from Connecticut, with 164 state municipalities represented.
The importance of strong financial aid packages will only continue to grow in future years as UConn continues to work to attract the best and brightest students from Connecticut and across the world. The success that UConn has seen in recent years, both in term of academic prestige and diversity, should continue to drive the university’s vision. Administrators must also to make sure that such promising classes of students feel supported in academics and in the community when the time comes and they do arrive on campus.