Georgia Tech Expects More Women, Hispanics Than Ever in Fall Freshman Class

This fall, more women and Hispanic students will enroll in Georgia Tech's freshman class than ever before. Almost 800 women and 108 Hispanic students will join the freshman class in August, a jump of 30 percent and 52 percent, respectively. Applications from prospective women students are also up, 7 percent.

The changes come at a time when Tech is admitting one of the smartest classes in its 119-year history. Students who've committed to becoming freshmen this fall currently boast an average grade point average of 3.75 and an average SAT score of 1337. As in the past, Tech expects 98 percent of new freshmen from Georgia will receive the HOPE scholarship.

Women, Science and Engineering

"We've been putting forth a tremendous effort to expose women to the diversity of the science and engineering fields, to show them how these fields impact the human condition in a personal way," said Ingrid Hayes, director of undergraduate admission.

The College of Sciences is the main beneficiary of the influx of women. This fall the college will have 80 percent more women in the freshman class than it had last fall. In biology alone, 91 out of the 123 new freshmen are women.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women have outpaced men in receiving bachelor's degrees since 1984. In the 2001-2002 academic year, the last year for which figures are available, women earned 57.4 percent of all bachelor's degrees. But at schools like Georgia Tech and M.I.T., where engineering has historically been a dominant field, women account for only one-third of the student body.

Attracting more women students is essential if Tech is going to continue to provide students a top-ranked education, said Katie Faussmagne, assistant director of undergraduate admission. "We need to have diversity in the fields of science and engineering. It brings different personalities to the table and diverse ideas," she said.

Women tend to be very interested in the human benefits of their fields of study, said Sue Rosser, researcher on women in science and engineering and dean of Tech's Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. "My research shows that women are particularly attracted to science and engineering when they can see its social usefulness."

That social usefulness is readily apparent in fields such as biology and biomedical engineering (BME), which students often take as a pre-med program. For the past several years women have been enrolling in the undergraduate biology program at twice the rate of men, and this year there are more than three times as many women enrolling in the program. Since Tech began the undergraduate BME program in 2001, half the students have been women. Considering that other engineering majors typically have male to female ratios of 6:1 or higher, BME is proving to be very adept at attracting women students.

Making prospective students aware of Tech's programs in liberal arts and architecture has also paid dividends. This fall the College of Architecture is expecting a 62 percent increase in the number of new women freshmen, while the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts will see a 20 percent increase.

Attracting more women to campus might be easier if Tech practiced affirmative action in its admissions decisions, but it doesn't. Instead, it uses targeted recruiting programs, like Futures, to get competitive students to apply, rather than giving them extra points for gender, race or ethnicity.

Tech unveiled the Futures program three years ago in an effort to showcase its offerings to prospective women students (http://www.visits.gatech.edu/futures). Women who attend Futures meet with faculty and students in small groups to discuss everything from career opportunities to life on campus. Tech is just beginning to see this program pay off, said Faussmagne. "Those who attended the program as sophomores and juniors in Futures are now applying as seniors," she said.

Outside of the Futures program, Tech is increasing personal contact between prospects and current women students through phone calls, personal visits and e-mails. "I think the personal approach has helped open the doors to what Georgia Tech can do for them," said Faussmagne.

Curriculum changes and the Futures program are just the newest additions to Georgia Tech's strategy to attract women students. Longstanding programs such as Women in Engineering, which targets middle school students; the ADVANCE program, which aims to mentor and increase the number of women faculty; and the Center for the Study of Women, Science and Technology, have helped Georgia Tech graduate more women engineers than any university in the country.

Hispanic Students on the Rise

Even with these impressive gains in female enrollment, it's Hispanics who continue to be the fastest growing population at Georgia Tech. This fall 108 Hispanic students are expected to enroll in the freshman class, 52 percent more than last fall. The numbers reflect a commitment Tech made in 2001 to bring talented Hispanic students to Georgia Tech. Helped along by a $4.25 million grant from The Goizueta Foundation to fund Hispanic recruiting efforts, scholarships, fellowships, an endowed chair and a professorship, Tech has seen the number of Hispanic students enrolling in the freshman class grow 125 percent since 2001.

Hispanics aren't just the fastest growing demographic group at Tech, they're the fastest growing group in the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics made up just 9 percent of the U.S. population in 1990. In 2000, that number jumped to 12.5 percent. By the next census in 2010, Hispanics are expected to surpass African-Americans as the largest minority group in the country. In Georgia and the Atlanta area, the situation is much the same. Since 1990, Georgia's Hispanic population has grown more than 400 percent. In the Atlanta metro area it's grown 500 percent. Universities that don't look to recruit Hispanics may find themselves missing out on a population that's quickly becoming an economic and political powerhouse.

"As career environments become more global, it's important that we offer students an opportunity to work with people with a diverse array of backgrounds. Hispanics are an important part of that goal," said Giselle Martin, assistant director of undergraduate admission. "As a group, they are major contributors to business, politics, science and the arts. Being a leading public institution, we are very interested in bringing a bright and diverse group of minds to Tech."

Martin spends much of the fall recruiting season talking with families around Atlanta and Georgia about Tech's programs in engineering, science, liberal arts and management and its commitment to attracting a well-rounded student body. She also makes recruiting trips to states such as Florida, Texas, New York and New Jersey, although Georgia provided almost 30 percent of Hispanic applicants this year, more than any other state.

African-American and international students also made strong gains in the upcoming freshman class. Tech expects 20 percent more African-American students to enroll compared to fall 2003. Last fall more international students than ever enrolled in the freshman class. This year's 11 percent increase in international students continues that trend.

Georgia Tech Quick Facts

· Number of freshmen expected to enroll in fall 2004: 2,550 (15 percent increase)

· Number of women expected to enroll in fall 2004: 800 (32 percent increase)

· Number of African-American students expected to enroll in fall 2004: 152 (20.6 percent increase)

· Number of Hispanic students expected to enroll in fall 2004: 108 (52 percent increase)

· Number of international students expected to enroll in fall 2004: 119 (11.2 percent increase)

· Average high school GPA: 3.75

· Average SAT: 1337

· Number of perfect standardized test scores: Eight freshmen with perfect SAT scores, one with a perfect ACT score

· Average age: 18 years

· Most popular first names:
Female: Jennifer (24), Jessica (24) and Ashley (18)
Male: Matthew (66), Michael (62) and Andrew (60)

· Most popular last names:
Female: Smith (9), Kim (6) and Lee (5)
Male: Patel (17), Lee (16) and Smith (14)

· Most popular majors:
Undeclared, College of Engineering (481)
Mechanical Engineering (262)
Aeropsace Engineering (223)
Computer Science (191)
Pre-architecture (149)

· Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia represented. No freshmen from South Dakota and Wyoming

· Top foreign countries
India (56)
South Korea (13)
Bangladesh (5)
Pakistan (5)
Taiwan (4)

· There are five sets of twins.

· There are 1,053 high schools represented.

· Sixty-three percent submitted a Web application.

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Phone: 404-894-2000