Introducing the Class of 2020

Introducing the Class of 2020

Published on September 5, 2016

Today, members of the class of 2020 begin their journey at Yale, arriving on campus with shower caddies and twin XL sheets, but also with a diverse set of dreams and anxieties.

Earlier this summer, the News distributed a survey to the class of 2020 in the hopes of providing a clear look at Yale’s newest undergraduates. Almost 1,000 members of the class responded, yielding a response rate of 69 percent. The results were not adjusted for selection bias.

The Yale presented in glossy admission brochures has now yielded to a more realistic image, one that comes with room assignments and distribution requirements. Yet the thrill of being greeted by a singing bulldog upon logging into the admission website still lingers.

“When I went there for Bulldog Days, I had imagined Yale as this cutthroat, intense place,” Kevin Swain ’20 said. “But I could see myself going there, which makes it all the more great. It’s an amazing school. I want to meet people and make connections.”

The class of 2020 is demographically similar to its predecessors. Just over 50 percent of the class identified as Caucasian, with an additional 20 percent identifying as East Asian or Asian-American; 11 percent as African-American, African or Afro-Caribbean; and 13 percent as Latinx or Hispanic-American.

“My high school was diverse, but split into smaller schools so I felt like I didn’t have access to all the diversity my high school afforded,” Jasmine Kennedy ’20 said. “I’m really looking forward to learning alongside so many people of different ethnicities and sexualities.”

Approximately one-eighth of the class hails from abroad, and the class of 2020 represents 50 different countries.

Of the students from the United States, the greatest number — more than 30 percent — reside in the Northeast. An additional 16 percent live in the West Coast and Pacific Northwest, as per the University’s freshman class profile.

Many incoming freshmen already have some connection to the University. About one out of five respondents indicated that at least one of their family members attended Yale College.

And 15 percent of students surveyed already knew more than 20 Yale students before having stepped foot on campus today. Another 73 percent knew somewhere between one and 20 students.

These relationships were built through high schools, summer camps and mutual friends, but also through connections made via alumni-hosted events, Bulldog Days and social media, respondents said.

Even though students may not have visited Yale, nearly all respondents demonstrated an awareness of controversial events that enveloped the University over the last year. Almost 95 percent of those surveyed said they were aware of campus protests in the fall of 2015 and almost a quarter followed them in campus publications.

Almost 58 percent of students have already spent time with some of their fellow freshmen in a pre-orientation program, and about half of those students signed up for a hands-on experience in hiking and tortilla meals by going on a Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trip.

In terms of political beliefs, the members of the class of 2020 skew overwhelmingly liberal: 82 percent view President Barack Obama favorably, and 67 percent said they plan on voting for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election — dwarfing the mere five percent of students who said they will be backing Donald Trump come November. In contrast, only one percent of respondents to the class of 2019 Freshman Survey indicated support for Trump.

As it skews liberal, the class of 2020 also skews upper-income. Slightly less than one-third of the class reported that they come from families whose annual income is $250,000 or greater, putting them in the top five percent of the national income distribution.

The class of 2020 was, overall, satisfied with its financial aid. Almost 75 percent of students who indicated they were receiving financial aid said that they were pleased with their packages.

Freshmen are fairly split on how ready they feel for coursework at Yale: 44 percent do feel prepared, while 43 percent are unsure. The other 13 percent said they do not feel prepared.

This year’s freshmen may be a little more virtuous than the class of 2019. One in five respondents admitted to cheating in an academic context, compared to one in four in last year’s Freshman Survey.

Over the course of the next week, the News will explore the demographics, beliefs and experiences of the class of 2020, sharing their voices and creating a profile of the incoming freshman class it begins to mold and be molded by Yale.

“I really see Yale as a transformational experience, because my goal is to not be the same person four years later,” Susan Chen ’20 said. “My goal is to be transformed — to be a different person and see things in a different way.”

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