2019 by the numbers: First impressions

2019 by the numbers:
First impressions

Published on August 28, 2015

Moving trucks and minivans crowding Elm Street, sweaty upperclassmen in colorful t-shirts, tearful parents not yet ready to let go — such are the hallmarks of freshman move-in. Today, hundreds of new undergraduates will begin their four years at Yale. They were carefully chosen from a pool of 30,227 applicants in the second-most competitive admissions cycle Yale has ever seen.

To get a sense of their backgrounds and views and expectations of Yale, the News distributed a comprehensive survey to the members of the class of 2019. Eight-hundred fifty-three responded. The results are presented here.

Editor's Note on the freshman survey: On Aug. 12, the News sent to every member of the Class of 2019 a survey comprising questions on family life, post-graduate plans and everything in between. The results of this survey will be published in a four-part series beginning today, with subsequent stories illustrating the ways in which different backgrounds color students’ perceptions of how the next four years will unfold.


Many students said they were looking forward to being part of a diverse student body at Yale, both in terms of upbringing and interests.

Five-hundred eighteen freshmen identified as Caucasian, 112 of which also indicated a second ethnicity. Asian-American and East Asian students made up the second largest group, totaling 175 students, with 14 identifying as mixed race.

The freshman class also demonstrated socioeconomic diversity. One-hundred ten students reported coming from households with a combined income level of below $40,000 per year. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 95 students reported having household incomes of more than $500,000 annually. Half of the respondents receive no financial aid from Yale, while one-fifth receive more than 90 percent aid — for the most part, these students were satisfied with their award. Still, 62 of the 420 students receiving aid were unsatisfied, with one such respondent calling the University “stingy” with award packages. Eight percent of students ranked relative affordability as the most important factor in their decision to matriculate to Yale.

More than half of respondents attended a public, non-charter high school, with 42 percent attending a private school. No respondents were homeschooled in high school.

In keeping with the rest of the Yale student body, members of the class of 2019 tended toward the left end of the political spectrum. Sixty-six percent of responding freshmen described their views as either “very” or “somewhat liberal,” with only 12 percent identifying as “very” or “somewhat conservative.” The remaining 184 respondents identified as “moderate.”

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was by far the most popular presidential candidate among responding freshmen, garnering the support of 38 percent of the class’s votes. In comparison, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 and Donald Trump, the candidates currently leading most national polls for primary elections, received just 23 and 1 percent, respectively.


The campus’s Gothic buildings and social atmosphere could not match the University’s world-class array of academic offerings in attracting freshmen to matriculate, according to survey results.

“Coming from an environment [that undervalued education], I am beyond excited to be learning in an environment so conducive to education itself,” one student wrote.

Eighty percent of the class said academics will take priority over extracurricular activities, with 31 percent stating that academics will be “significantly more important.” As was the case with the class of 2018, none of the respondents said that their social life would be “significantly more important” than their studies.

Yet, despite this prioritization of academics, 25 percent of the class said they feel unprepared for the workload, and the majority of respondents listed workload as their most pressing source of anxiety. Further, there appeared to be a stark divide between genders in this group, 80 percent of which was female.

One student wrote they were anxious about “not being able to stand out academically in a competitive environment,” a sentiment that many respondents echoed.

“I don’t think I am prepared to study alongside people who attended the best and most rigorous high schools in the world, and that is what makes me anxious about going to Yale,” another wrote.

What type(s) of extracurricular group(s) do you plan to join? Please select all that apply.

(Aparna Nathan, Production & Design Editor)

One in four incoming freshmen revealed that they had cheated in some way during their respective high school career. Three percent of students said they had taken a drug to enhance academic performance during the same period.

Outside the classroom, community service organizations drew the most interest from freshmen, followed by athletics and performing arts. Only 14 percent of the class indicated an interest in Greek life, comparable to the statistics within the larger student body.

Twenty-nine percent of students said they have never consumed alcohol, compared to the 17 percent who said they drink regularly. All of the students who have never consumed alcohol said they have also never taken recreational drugs, including marijuana. Overall, only 25 percent of the class said they have used drugs in the past.

Although roughly two-thirds of the class said they have never had sexual intercourse, 40 percent of these students said they anticipate having sex before they graduate.

Seventy-four percent of the incoming class are currently single, 81 percent of whom said they anticipate being in a romantic relationship while at Yale.

Challenging the old refrain of “One in four, maybe more,” only 5 percent and 7 percent of respondents identified as homosexual or bisexual, respectively.

Do you have any experience with alcohol, drugs or sexual intercourse?

(Aparna Nathan, Production & Design Editor)


Over the past year, Yale has come under wide scrutiny for its financial aid, sexual misconduct and mental health policies; however, when asked about these campus issues, most incoming freshmen said they did not feel informed enough to express an opinion.

Students felt particularly uninformed on issues of sexual misconduct and mental health policy, with 73 and 77 percent, respectively.

But of the 230 students who reportedly did feel sufficiently informed on the topic of sexual misconduct, 155 described the University’s policies as either “highly effective” or “generally effective,” and only nine considered the policies “highly ineffective.”

Fifty percent of the incoming class said they do not think that students receiving financial aid should be expected to work a paid, part-time job as part of their student contribution requirement, compared to 27 percent who agreed with current campus policy that expects students to work to fill their financial aid package.


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About the series

On Aug. 12, the News sent all incoming freshmen a survey with questions running the gamut from family life to post-graduate plans. This is a four-part series on the results.