To members of the Northeastern community:
Last week, the university released its undergraduate admissions decisions—an exciting moment for all of us here at Northeastern and for students around the world who will join our community. I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the remarkable trajectory of undergraduate admissions.
For the ninth consecutive year, we have set a new record for total applicants. For our Fall 2018 freshman class, the university received 62,268 applications—a substantial increase of 8,000 over the previous year.
That is an impressive achievement for any university, and it is made more impressive by the fact that thequality of our applicants is also at an all-time high. We will provide more detail after our spring admissions season is complete, but as of today, our key quality metrics—SAT scores, GPAs, class rank—are all surging.
Our success is particularly notable given the downward trend of college applications across the U.S. Due in part to demographic shifts, the total number of undergraduate applicants nationally is declining. Meanwhile, international applications to U.S. institutions are softening. We are seeing strong competition from universities in the U.K., Australia, and Canada.
Inevitably, these trends are pushing down overall enrollment: According to a recent survey of admissions professionals conducted by Gallup and Inside Higher Ed, only 34 percent of U.S. colleges met their enrollment targets last year, down from 42 percent in 2015.
Most of our peer institutions experienced 1 or 2 percent increases or decreases in international applications this year. By contrast, Northeastern’s global applications grew by 12 percent, double last year’s growth rate. Domestically, we have increased our share of underrepresented minorities from 17 to 22 percent this year. We can all be proud that Northeastern is such a welcoming place—a global community that embraces diversity and inclusion.
From my perspective, the reasons for our enrollment success are not surprising. We have doubled down on our leadership in global experiential learning. We are providing undergraduate students access to research opportunities that reinforce their classroom learning.
Overall, our growth has been strongest in the areas where we have been most innovative. We have actively promoted combined majors across all our colleges, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Those opportunities for multidisciplinary study have propelled three-quarters of our increase in applications. Our successful NUin program, which affords freshmen a unique global experience, continues to attract high-talent students. As a result, we are increasing the number of NUin sites around the world.
Inventive programs that leverage our global university system—such as our Semester in Silicon Valley for emerging entrepreneurs—could well be the next big driver of enrollment growth.
I want to thank all of you—students, faculty, and staff—for being our ambassadors around the world. It is because of your dedication, and through the example of your success, that we are able to attract such talented learners. Our job now is to welcome these new members of our community, give them guidance, and also challenge them to explore the unknown.
I look forward to working with you as we continue to shape our individual and collective journeys.
Joseph E. Aoun