UMass Amherst Welcomes Largest, Most Academically Successful Freshmen Class In The University’s History

Posted by erik devaney

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If you are a high school student who currently has UMass Amherst listed as one of your “safety” schools, you might want to open up that “Schools I Am Applying To” Word document and do some editing.

The numbers are in and this year’s freshmen class, the class of 2015, is one for the University of Massachusetts Amherst record books. In addition to being the largest entering class at 4,700 students — an increase of more than 200 students in comparison to last year — the class of 2015 is the most accomplished in the school’s history.

Since last year’s admission process, average SAT scores for incoming students have increased by 20 points to 1187 and high school grade point averages have jumped from 3.61 to 3.62. Furthermore, the average incoming UMass Amherst student this year ranked in the top 20 percent of his or her high school class. Just under a decade ago, in 2003, the public university was accepting 82% of students who applied. As of 2011, that acceptance rate has dropped to about two-thirds, which indicates an increase in the school’s selectivity.

I recently got in touch with third-year student and RA, Michelle Piantedosi, who has been

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helping this incoming class of geniuses get acclimated. “In some aspects, the freshmen actually do seem smarter,” she told me. “For a long time, it seemed that UMass was a safety school for many students… Each year, I feel as if I meet more students with higher rankings from high school, even valedictorians.”

However, Piantedosi was quick to point out that this perceived high-intelligence of incoming students at UMass Amherst likely has more to do with competitiveness than it does with intellect. “Now these students are coming with more and more impressive backgrounds,” she commented. Piantedosi went on to say that because students are fighting for internships as well as for spots in student organizations, “the freshmen seem more driven than smart.”

One of these driven freshmen is Danielle Reynolds, who was accepted to Northeastern University — amongst other schools — before deciding on UMass Amherst. “I chose UMass Amherst because it was affordable compared to other private schools, had a good academic reputation, and because there are so many people and so much to do here.”

Reynolds’ statement illuminates a distinct change in how people now perceive the academic reputation of UMass Amherst in comparison to just a few years ago. Class of 2009 graduate, Thomas McLaughlin, told me that when he first started at UMass Amherst, the school had a relatively poor reputation in terms of academics and was “probably better known as a party school.” By bringing in more high-performing students like those in this year’s incoming class, UMass Amherst administrators are working to change that “party school” reputation.

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Posted by erik devaney on Aug 31 2011. Filed under Lifestyle, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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