Ceramicists, Debaters and Irish Folk Harpists: A Look at Amherst College’s Class of 2012

August 25, 2008               
Contact: Marjan Hajibandeh ’09E
Media Relations Intern
Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Under blue summer skies, the *440 members of Amherst College’s Class of 2012 converged on campus Sunday, Aug. 24, to begin the first semester of their college careers at their new alma mater. The first-years—who range from ceramicists to champion debaters to Irish folk harpists—represent an extraordinary array of beliefs, ambitions, passions, backgrounds and talents, according to Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Tom Parker. “While they may have all traveled very diverse paths to get to Amherst, all of them have at least one very important thing in common: Each has demonstrated a readiness to contribute to this community both in the classroom and beyond,” said Parker. “They all have so much to offer Amherst and so much to learn from one another these next four years.”

The students were part of the largest applicant pool in Amherst’s history—more than 7,700 applied last fall—and were among just 1,144 admitted. Transfers for fall admission also peaked with 412 applicants; 23 were accepted and 14 enrolled. As a result, Amherst’s acceptance rate dipped to less than 15 percent this year, down from 18 percent in 2007.

The members of the Class of 2012 describe themselves are photographers, filmmakers, writers, local newspaper reporters, champion debaters, opera singers, jazz pianists, violinists, cricket players and black belts in karate. They have been members of marching bands, drumlines, a cappella groups, gospel choirs, rock bands and Ultimate Frisbee teams. They have served as student body and class presidents, managed award-winning newspapers and political journals and organized multicultural and environmental groups. They have founded chapters of Amnesty International and Habitat for Humanity; raised funds for refugees in Darfur, tsunami relief and the homeless; and volunteered their time and energy around the world. They have also performed in Broadway shows and have danced with the Joffrey Ballet.

Here are a few other tidbits about Amherst’s Class of 2012:

•    The first-years hail from 28 countries, 46 states and the District of Columbia. The top three states represented are New York, California and Massachusetts.
•    More than 50 percent of the class is receiving financial aid from the college.
•    Half are women.
•    Thirty-nine percent have self-identified as students of color.
•    Thirteen percent are first-generation college undergraduates.
•    Thirty-eight are non-U.S. citizens.
•    The first-years represent 362 secondary schools (58 percent are public, 34 percent independent and 8 percent parochial).
•    English is not the first language of nearly 11 percent of the class; students speak more than 17 different languages at home and have lived in some 50 different countries.
•    The average SAT scores for students in the Class of 2012 were 708 verbal, 706 math and 705 writing, while the average ACT score was 31.
•    Ten first-years deferred enrollment in the fall of 2007 to broaden their learning in non-traditional ways. A few such activities included tutoring disadvantaged youth in Singapore, Israel and China; serving at a Nicaraguan medical mission; herding sheep on an Indian reservation; teaming with an ambulance corps and working on an organic farm.
•    Two members of the Class of 2012 are 16 years old; another is 21.
•    One student has a patent pending.
•    One can solve the Rubik’s Cube in 35 seconds flat.

Since its founding in 1821, Amherst College has become one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the nation, enrolling more than 1,600 talented, energetic and diverse young men and women.

* All numbers may settle over the coming weeks.