UConn’s Freshmen Bring Talent, Ambition, and Unprecedented Diversity

First-year students bring with them a wealth of talent and aspirations. Here is all you need to know about the Class of 2023.

First-year students bring with them a wealth of talent and aspirations. Here is all you need to know about the Class of 2023. ()

The Class of 2023 brings a wealth of academic talent, high aspirations, and unprecedented diversity when those freshmen arrive in coming days at the University of Connecticut, where a record-high number of about 24,200 undergraduates are preparing to start the new academic year.

About 77% of this year’s freshmen originate from Connecticut, and the class is one of the most academically accomplished in recent history. It also includes a record number of 176 valedictorians and salutatorians, more than double the number 10 years ago.

Welcome New Huskies: The Freshmen Move In.

The class is also the most representative of the state’s and nation’s diversity, which a record 41 percent of incoming UConn Storrs freshmen being students of color.

This fall, UConn’s overall undergraduate student body will number a record 24,200, which is almost 4,000 more students than at this time 10 years ago.

About 4,600 of this year’s students – including one-third of the new freshmen – are enrolled at the regional campuses in Hartford, Waterbury, Stamford and Avery Point. That, too, is a new record, attesting to the strength of those campuses and the success of UConn’s investments in their academic offerings.

A decade ago, the regional campuses had a combined enrollment of about 4,250, about 350 lower than today.

About 77% of UConn’s incoming freshmen are Connecticut natives, the highest number in recent years. Overall, about 80% of UConn’s undergraduate student body hails from Connecticut, a number that has held steady for more than a decade and isn’t expected to change in the foreseeable future.

This year’s freshmen join UConn at an auspicious time, becoming Huskies at the start of Thomas C. Katsouleas’ service as the university’s 16th president. They are also starting as several exciting initiatives get under way or come to completion, notably this month’s opening of the new Student Recreation Center at UConn Storrs.

More than three-quarters of the approximately 5,450 freshmen enrolling across UConn’s campuses are Connecticut residents, hailing from 162 of the state’s 169 towns and cities along with 28 other states, two U.S. territories, and 35 countries.

About 1,000 transfer students – of whom 87 percent are from Connecticut – will be joining the 5,450 new freshmen, according to preliminary figures released Aug. 21.

About 3,650 of the freshmen will be based at UConn Storrs, where first-year students start moving into residence halls Friday and other students return throughout the weekend. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 26, at all campuses.

They’re also academically exceptional, with the freshmen at Storrs averaging 1296 on their SAT scores – the second-highest among recent classes – and 41% are students of color, not including the approximately 500 international students joining UConn’s student body this year.

Katsouleas said he expects great things from the incoming Huskies as they navigate their first year at UConn together.

“The members of the class of 2023 chose UConn for a variety of reasons, including our academic reputation, the quality of our facilities, and the vibrancy of our campuses,” he said. “It is also the incredible sense of community and school spirit that helped to draw so many here, including me.

“For the members of this class, the next four years will be about growth and new experiences, both in and out of the classroom,” he added. “Their time at UConn will shape them, allow them to discover who they are, and help them to choose their pursuits in life. And if we do our job right, their UConn education will empower them to create a better community and a better world.”

Academically, the incoming freshmen have impressive credentials: UConn is adding a record 580 freshmen at Storrs to its Honors Program, plus another 22 based at UConn Stamford. UConn also attracted 176 valedictorians and salutatorians this year across all campuses; ten years ago, that number was 87.

“We are thrilled that UConn continues to attract top students from across Connecticut and beyond,” said Nathan Fuerst, UConn’s vice president for enrollment planning and management.

“There’s strong competition regionally and nationally to recruit and retain students of this high caliber,” he said. “We’re proud to be able to offer them a world-class education at UConn at a tremendous value, and we have no doubt that they will bring great energy, ambition, and accomplishments to our campuses.”

Competition was strong for spots in UConn’s Class of 2023, with more than 39,000 total applications received for the 5,450 freshman spots and the approximately 1,000 transfer students accepted from other institutions.

Like their peers, the transfer students come to UConn with strong credentials and potential for success. Almost one-third of them are transferring from Connecticut’s 13 community colleges, and about 87% are Connecticut residents. Overall, the transfer class includes students from 22 states and 18 nations, transferring from nearly 300 colleges and universities.

‘I could feel the school spirit here right away.’ — Sarah Ibrahim

Incoming freshman Sarah Ibrahim, a Coventry native who took courses through the university’s First Summer program, said she was initially nervous to enroll in a large university, but that her apprehension faded quickly as she got to know UConn.

“It’s really a welcoming community,” said Ibrahim, who is in the Honors Program and plans to study allied health with a concentration in public health. “It feels like we’re all connected by the fact that we’re Huskies and that we all have that UConn pride. I could feel the school spirit here right away.”

Fellow incoming freshman Julia Lawler, who plans to pursue a pre-med track, said UConn’s commitment to research and the opportunities it provides students in those areas was a major factor in her decision to enroll.

“It’s really important for me to have research experience on my resume for a pre-med track, and when I looked into what UConn offers, it was very easy to get information about what opportunities are available,” said Lawler, who is from Ridgefield. “The professors have been very open and accessible, and they’re willing to work with you and talk about ways to do research with you.”

The strength of UConn’s faculty is one of many factors that students and their families have cited as reasons for their interest in UConn, where applications have increased steadily. In 2001, for instance, the university received about 13,600 applications, compared to this year’s 39,000-plus applications.

That growth defies national and regional trends, in which declines in the number of high school graduates have caused many universities to see their applications level off or decrease. It also reflects UConn’s increasing academic stature, which has been recognized in national rankings, including its current spot as No. 22 among U.S. News & World Report’s top public universities.

Heri Mulungula, a native of Tanzania who has lived in New Haven for three years, said he was convinced that he wanted to attend UConn after touring the Storrs campus with his father and learning of the opportunities, including the chance to get an early jump on credits by taking First Summer classes. He’s also planning to play soccer in Club Sports, already has UConn apparel and has picked out his favorite Dairy Bar ice cream: its smooth, refreshing vanilla.

Areez Rahim, an Avon resident who plans to study biomedical engineering, said he initially worried he might not be accepted into that prestigious UConn program. Not only was he offered a spot in the Class of 2023, but he also received financial aid to help ensure his education is affordable.

In fact, UConn increased its financial aid budget this year to $194.7 million – with $139 million directly from UConn institutional funds – to help support talented students, with the best packages provided to in-state, low-income students. University-supported financial aid has increased 24% over the past three years, and three-quarters of all UConn undergraduates receive some form of financial aid.

“I knew when I applied that biomedical engineering is a really tough program to get into, but I was really happy and grateful to see that UConn sees my potential and took a chance on me,” Rahim said.