UConn's Incoming Freshmen Bring a Wealth of Academic Talent, High Aspirations

They’re high school valedictorians, community volunteers, varsity athletes, artists, peer mentors, aspiring scientists, accomplished writers – and they’re all part of UConn’s incoming freshman class, the most academically accomplished group to enter the University in its history.

The Class of 2017, whose approximately 3,750 members start moving in Friday, is bringing high aspirations and unprecedented academic talent to UConn. With an average SAT score of 1233, the Class of 2017 outpaced last year’s incoming freshmen, whose average of 1226 had set the previous record.

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As the new class joins the current undergraduate student body, their academic talent will help UConn continue its strong momentum toward becoming one of the nation’s top-tier research institutions.

“By every measure this is the most academically qualified and diverse freshman class in the history of the University, even breaking the impressive records set by last year’s stellar class,” UConn President Susan Herbst says. “The class of 2017 is also one of the largest freshman classes ever enrolled at UConn, with far more students accepting offers of admission than even our most optimistic forecasts predicted.

“The size of the class and its high quality are a testament to the excellent education UConn offers and the value we represent to students and their families,” she adds. “Connecticut can take a great deal of pride in knowing that its flagship public university is in such high demand.”

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The new class of freshmen is among the most diverse that UConn has ever recruited, with 27 percent of its members representing minority groups.

It also includes 456 students enrolling in the highly selective Honors Program. With an average SAT score of 1413, they are the cream of an already illustrious crop, and the largest number of Honors Program students to enroll in UConn in a single year.

While the improvement in recent years is noteworthy, UConn has been on a strong and positive trajectory for almost two decades, dating to around the time the University and state launched the UConn 2000 infrastructure improvement project in 1995.

The average SAT scores of incoming freshmen have jumped from 1028 in 1995 to this year’s average of 1233, and the number of valedictorians and salutatorians in the freshman class has increased from 40 in 1995 to 149 this year.

UConn had everything I was looking at, and more.

UConn expects to continue and increase its competitiveness in recruiting highly talented freshman classes, providing top-tier education and research opportunities for undergraduates, and helping them launch lasting, fulfilling careers in the areas of their choice.

“While there are many factors that influence students and their families’ college choice, we believe the strong response of our prospective students was a result of the many exciting initiatives underway at UConn, including the hiring of new faculty and Next Generation Connecticut,” says Nathan Fuerst, UConn’s director of undergraduate admissions.

The University is in the midst of a program to add nearly 300 additional tenure-track faculty positions in strategic curriculum areas to strengthen its academic core in programs across the board, including in key humanities and liberal arts areas. The newly launched $1.5 billion Next Generation Connecticut program also will transform UConn’s academics and facilities in critical STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and math) over the coming decade.

While official enrollment figures will not be available until September, preliminary figures indicate that UConn’s new freshman class draws 32 percent of its students from other states. Many new freshmen and new transfer students are also enrolling at the five regional campuses at Avery Point, Greater Hartford, Stamford, Torrington, and Waterbury.

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The University's broad range of offerings was one of the factors that attracted incoming freshmen such as Samantha “Sam” Rosicke, 17, who was Bolton High School's valedictorian and will join UConn's Honors Program. She plans to major in biological sciences and become a pediatrician, and also will pursue her longtime love of playing violin by adding an academic concentration in music studies.

“I want to take full advantage of what UConn has to offer. I see UConn has so much for students in so many areas, so that made me really excited about coming here,” says Rosicke, who was a leader in her school's National Honor Society chapter, Envirothon team, and a variety of other activities. “I see a lot of opportunities there to get involved in hands-on research and do all of the work that'll prepare me for my next steps in life.”

And, she added, UConn's school spirit is undeniable – of the several schools she considered and visited, UConn students had the most excitement and wear it proudly on their clothes, hats, and other gear. “There's a feeling at UConn that you just don't feel at other places,” she says.

Garret Tirrell, also an incoming freshman, and valedictorian of the Tolland High School Class of 2013, says that while he loves its proximity to his home and its athletic offerings, what really sold him were UConn's academics and its growing stature nationwide.

“I was looking for a diverse education, one that could provide me with any education I wanted, because I know that it is likely that my first major won’t be my last, and UConn fit that criterion perfectly,” says Tirrell, who plans to study applied mathematics at UConn and was involved in the National Honor Society, Junior Engineering Team, literary magazine, the hockey and baseball teams, and other activities in high school.

“I seemed that some of the other schools I was looking at were geared more toward one subject or another,” he says, “but UConn had everything I was looking at, and more.”

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