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Incoming class once again raises the academic bar

Northeastern’s 115th entering class is the most academically accomplished in the university’s history, according to a briefing before the Faculty Senate on Wednesday afternoon in the Raytheon Amphitheatre.

The average SAT score for entering freshmen was an all-time-high 1360, according to a presentation by Philomena Mantella, Northeastern’s senior vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, and Jane Brown, vice president for enrollment management.

Sixty-three percent of freshmen students were in the top 10 percent of their high school class, compared to only 38 percent in 2006. More than three dozen of those students were accepted into Northeastern’s inaugural University Scholars Program, which gives top achievers a full tuition scholarship.

But Mantella said Northeastern looks far beyond SAT scores and high school grades in selecting its incoming class, paying particular attention to prospective students’ entrepreneurial spirit, global interests and high school recommendations.

Northeastern also received the most applications in the university’s history for the 2012-13 academic year. Mantella said Northeastern received 44,208 applications for 2,800 spots in the freshmen class, a staggering jump from the 27,168 it received six years ago.

“Because of the growth in our applicant pool, we have become increasingly selective,” accepting just 32 percent of applicants this year, Mantella said. “That’s probably obvious by our student profile.”

Brown said Northeastern’s retention rate is steadily increasing, a welcome trend that she attributed to a university-wide effort that began about two years ago. Last year, 95.5 percent of freshmen moved on to their second year at Northeastern, a university record and a statistic that places Northeastern within the top 50 colleges and universities nationwide.

Brown also noted that EMSA would focus its attention on several key initiatives over the next year. Continuing to improve the experience of students visiting campus is a top priority, one that she described as “the primary driver in what influences a student’s decision to enroll here.”

Brown said EMSA would also enhance Northeastern’s messaging, with a focus on the intersection between classroom and experiential education; develop the Plus One pilot program, an initiative that would let freshmen plan for a year of graduate study, with financial aid guaranteed at the same rate; and increase marketing and recruitment for Northeastern’s professional master’s programs.

After the presentation on recruitment and retention, the Faculty Senate unanimously passed a Sense of the Senate resolution endorsing the Faculty Giving Initiative. The initiative is part of a major university campaign to generate more than $1 billion over the next five years.

Richard Daynard, University Distinguished Professor of Law and Senate Agenda Committee chairman, said faculty gifts would continue to help Northeastern become “the best it could possibly be.”