Submitted on Thursday, 9/12/2013, at 4:21 PM

They have participated in dog rescue programs, supported hurricane relief and competed on the international squash circuit. They speak 30 different languages and have lived in more than 40 different countries. They are Quakers, Junior Olympians, Irish fiddle players and calligraphers. There is even an embalmer’s assistant.

What do all of these people have in common? They started their college careers at Amherst on Aug. 25, when New Student Orientation began.

“There are certainly many differences among Amherst’s first-year and transfer students, and many common threads,” said Katie Fretwell ’81, dean of admission. “One thing is for certain: Their credentials are stunning, and their experiences and talents are varied and vast.”

Fretwell explained that the college received 7,926 applications for admission to the Class of 2017. Exactly 1,132 of that pool were admitted, and 466 ending up enrolling at the college. In addition to those 7,926 applications, there were another 473 for transfer admission—just 20 transfer students were accepted, and 13 enrolled. That means that 14 percent of Amherst’s first-year applicants, and only 4 percent of transfer candidates, were offered admission.

Here are a few more fun facts about the latest batch of first-year and transfer students at Amherst:

  • This year’s new students are from 30 foreign countries, the District of Columbia and 40 states. And for the first time in Amherst’s 192 years, California is the most represented state in the entering class.  
  • There are four more women than men in the Class of 2017, which makes the male-female ratio slightly under 50:50.  
  • A record-setting 45 percent of the first-years have identified themselves as American students of color.
  • Forty-four young men and women, or 9 percent, are not American citizens, and another 5 percent are dual citizens of the U.S. and another country.
  • Almost 18 percent of this year’s admitted students are the first in their families to go to college.
  • 57 percent are receiving financial aid from Amherst.
  • The oldest incoming student (at 33) is more than twice the age of the youngest (16).
  • In a “startling upset,” according to Fretwell, the Emilys in the Class of ’17 have displaced the Sarahs, who, for the last two years, sat atop the list of most common female names in the entering class. As for the most popular male names, the Samuels are now taking the top spot. The most common last name? Kim—10 students share that surname.
  • 86 percent graduated with GPAs in the top 10 percent of their senior classes.
  • They have graduated from 378 different schools: 59 percent of these schools were public, 35 percent independent and 6 percent parochial.  The students attended magnet and lab schools, science and technical academies, Quaker and virtual high schools, leadership schools, foreign-language and art institutes, performing arts academies, community colleges and charter schools.
  • Twenty-four opted to learn beyond the classroom by taking “gap years” in 13 different countries and on four continents. These students spent last year learning new languages, training for the junior national swimming championships, testing wilderness survival skills and aiding the less fortunate, among many other activities.
  • Nine are twins—including two sets who enrolled together—and three are triplets (though not from the same set). 
  • They have lived in apartments, mansions, suburbs, remote mountain villages, homeless shelters and the projects and on military bases.
  • The students describe themselves as Muslim, Seventh-Day Adventist, Jewish and Catholic, among other religious identities. They are also Republican, Democrat and Libertarian; vegan, vegetarian and carnivore; and gay, straight and bisexual.
  • They have mentored at-risk youth, supported children with AIDS and tutored adult English learners.  They have established groups to support questioning LGBT teens and those who have lost homes to famine and natural disasters. They’ve aided injured raptors, fought for human rights and fought against global sex trafficking and bullying.
  • They earned recognition on the national level as All-Americans and Junior Olympians in a number of traditional sports, including lacrosse, squash, tennis, crew and horseback riding. They have also dedicated themselves to such lesser-known physical feats as juggling, synchronized skating, cricket, martial arts, trapeze and aerial hoops.
  • The students’ ambition has compelled them to summit Mount Kilimanjaro and become Eagle Scouts. They’ve won spelling bees, 4-H cattle-raising ribbons and other awards. They also act, play the steel drums and the ukulele, compose electronic music, play in punk bands and create graffiti art.
  • And boy do they dance! They love swing, modern, ballet, tap, Asian pop, ballroom, Irish step, breakdancing and jerking, to name a few styles.