Class of 2023: By the numbers

Class of 2023:
By the numbers

Published on September 5, 2019

On Aug. 23, Yale  welcomed the largest and most diverse class in University history.

“Be open to different viewpoints and experiences, and see them as opportunities to learn — even if sometimes you get your hand bit,” University President Peter Salovey told first-year students during the annual opening address. “Your time at Yale is an unparalleled opportunity to engage with a wide range of people, ideas and experiences. More than at any other point in your life, you will have the means and the opportunity to hear from — and converse with — world-renowned experts in many fields.”

To learn more about the newest batch of Yalies, the News distributed a survey to members of the class of 2023 to learn more about their background as well as their stances on issues on campus and beyond. Of the 1,554 first years in Yale College, 726 responded to the survey — a 46.7 percent response rate. Survey results were not adjusted for selection bias.

According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan, a record 51 percent of the newest class identifies as a racial or ethnic minority, such as African American, Asian American, Mexican American/Chicano or Native American. The newest undergraduate class represents all 50 states and 57 countries and graduated from more than 1,100 high schools. They speak more than 60 foreign languages, and 46 percent of the class speaks a language other than English as their first language or in their home, Quinlan said.

In the News’ survey, of the 722 students who answered the question, 18 percent have a family member who has attended Yale, while almost one-fourth of respondents identify as a first-generation college student.

Out of 721 students who responded to the question, 36 percent matriculated to the University from the Northeast. Sixteen percent of the students came from the Southeast, 15 percent from southwestern U.S., 7 percent from the Northwest and 14 percent from the Midwest. Eleven percent of the respondents came from outside the U.S.

While a majority, 59 percent, of the 721 respondents said they come from the suburbs, 33 percent said they live in an urban area. The remaining 8 percent said they live in a rural community.

Among the 721 students, almost three-quarters identified as heterosexual, and 14 percent said they are bisexual. Six percent of the respondents are gay or lesbian, and 1 percent said they are asexual. The remaining 8 percent said they are questioning their sexuality or declined to answer.

Sixty-three percent of 722 first-year respondents attended a public high school, while 35 percent went to a non-denominational or parochial private school. Two percent of respondents  indicated that they were either homeschooled or went to “other” types of high school.


The class of 2023 arrives at Yale as Salovey seeks to bolster the University’s STEM resources, as recommended by the University Science Strategy Committee last year.

Among members of the class of 2023 surveyed by the News, the most popular fields for potential majors included social sciences, biological and physical sciences, as well as engineering and applied sciences. Meanwhile, survey respondents expressed the most confidence in Yale’s ability to excel strongly in the humanities and social sciences.

Thirty-four percent of 720 respondents said they plan to major in a social science, 26 percent expressed interest in majoring in a biological or physical science and 21 percent said they plan to major in engineering or applied science. Fewer students — 13 percent — reported planning to pursue humanities major, while just 2 percent wished to major in arts or theater.

When asked to indicate to what extent they believe Yale excels in particular academic fields, 92 percent of around 700 respondents said Yale was “strong” in the social sciences and 93 percent said the University was strong in the humanities.

Meanwhile, just 46 percent called Yale strong in the biological and physical sciences and 30 percent said it is strong in engineering and applied science. Still, 42 percent and 43 percent of respondents said the University is “somewhat strong” in each of the fields, respectively.

Of 685 question respondents, around 40 percent said that Yale should focus specifically on investing in engineering and applied sciences versus other disciplines.

“I think we have traditional strengths in the areas in which students perceive us to be strong,” said Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun. “These are strong numbers, especially if you average the first two, ‘strong’ and ‘somewhat strong’ … we’re still coming across strong. If there are relative discrepancies within our own rankings, that is something we are aware of and it’s one of the motivations for the public and official commitment from Yale, President Salovey and Provost Polak to invest in STEM, so it’s very much consistent with that.”

Chun highlighted the new Yale Science Building — which he said improves STEM facilities and plays a role in attracting new STEM faculty members — as physical evidence of the University’s commitment to strengthening its STEM programs. He also pointed to the building projects at the former Hall of Graduate Studies and the Schwartzman Center as evidence of Yale’s continued commitment to building its strength in the humanities and the arts, respectively.

Rosie Rothschild ’23 plans to major in engineering and responded that she perceived Yale as “strong” in all fields except for STEM, which she perceives as “somewhat strong.” Rothschild, along with several other first years interviewed by the News, said she based her responses off of Yale’s high-profile reputation in the humanities and social sciences.

Rothschild emphasized that her own experiences with the engineering department so far at Yale have been positive and that upper-level students  have expressed similar sentiments.

“When I was applying, it was something that I thought about,” she said. “But after visiting … and taking an engineering tour, it seemed just as strong as every other place, and the community aspect is something I really loved about Yale, so I definitely thought it was the best place for me.”


Among 707 students who responded to the question, 62 percent said they have never had sexual intercourse. Twenty percent said they first engaged in sexual intercourse in 12th grade or after high school, while 9 percent first had sex in 11th grade. Seven percent and 2 percent of the respondents reported that they first had sex in 10th grade and 9th grade, respectively.

The News also surveyed first years about their substance and alcohol usage. Only 36 percent of respondents said they had never drank alcohol, while 13 percent and 10 percent reported they drink “very rarely” and “few times a year,” respectively. Eight percent said they drink alcohol once a month, and the remaining 27 percent said they drink more than once a month.

Meanwhile, 28 percent of first-year respondents said they have smoked marijuana, while just 16 percent said they have used a Juul or vaped. Only 3 percent have taken study drugs like adderall, and 10 percent have previously used tobacco products.


For the most part, students in the class of 2023 lean left on politics, oppose U.S. President Donald Trump and are in favor of sanctuary cities and the #MeToo movement.

Of the 716 survey respondents who chose to answer the question, 74 percent characterized their political leanings as leaning left, with 41 percent calling themselves “somewhat liberal” and 33 percent characterizing themselves as “very liberal.” Fifteen percent said they were centrists, 9 percent identified as “somewhat conservative,” and 3 percent said they were “very conservative.”

Looking at first years’ stances on hot-button political issues, 72 percent of 708 first years “strongly opposed” Trump, while only 1 percent were “strongly in favor” of him.

The majority of 704 question respondents supported the #MeToo movement, with 49 percent strongly favoring it and 31 percent favoring it somewhat. Universal health care saw broad support as well. While 12 percent of 702 respondents opposed or strongly opposed to the policy and 12 percent remained neutral, 26 percent were in favor and 49 percent were strongly in favor.

On the issue of sanctuary cities, student opinion was distributed among levels of favor and neutrality, with 44 percent of 702 respondents strongly in favor, 23 percent somewhat in favor and 24 percent neutral.

Annie Giman ’23 said that the high proportion  of liberal students “doesn’t surprise” her.

“Yale and northeastern private colleges, in general, have a reputation for left-leaning political climates,” Giman said. “I imagine it would be uncomfortable if you’re not liberal. It’s uncomfortable if you’re liberal but don’t agree with the masses on every single issue.”

Joaquin Lara Midkiff ’23 also found the figure unsurprising, but finds it a “troubling reality that three-fourths of the student body is committed to a similar ideology.” He said he applied to Yale hoping to see his own ideological values challenged, but he doubts that he will get the chance to engage with many students who identify as conservative, adding in an email to the News that he hopes “these demographics will change — and soon!”

Still, Mpilo Norris ’23 — who considers himself politically independent but has some conservative views — said that he does not mind being on a campus where he is in the political minority. In fact, he welcomes being in an environment where many opinions differ from his own.

“As long as everyone can express their views in a respectable manner and learn from one another, I have no problem with an imbalance, if you want to call it an imbalance — that’s just sort of how it is,” he said.

Yale has 5,964 undergraduates.


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