Student Diversity Continues to Rise at Tech: Most International Freshmen Ever; Growth in Georgia Students

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When Georgia Tech freshmen hit the campus on August 18, there will be more international students among them than ever before and a significant increase in freshmen from Georgia.

Despite tough new federal regulations on foreign students, 104 international students are expected to enroll in Tech's 2003-2004 freshman class, which is a 57.5 percent increase over last year and the largest in Tech's history. Georgia Tech already boasts the largest number of international students in the state, with 2,825 enrolled in Tech's undergraduate and graduate programs for 2002-2003. The increase comes as a pleasant surprise to Sheila Schulte, associate director for international students and scholar services at Tech.

"We weren't sure if the new rules on student visas would deter students from applying. It's nice to see that the high caliber of our reputation was able to outweigh any difficulties they might have with the visa process," said Schulte.

Attracting top-notch international students is vital for a university that wants to increase diversity on campus, said Ingrid Hayes, interim director of the Office of Undergraduate Admission. "Diversity doesn't just apply to African-American, Hispanic-American and Native American students. Having a truly diverse campus means that you have students from all over the world, with vastly different backgrounds contributing their ideas, culture and ways of viewing the world to your campus. This greatly enhances the education students get at Tech and gives them the skills to prosper in the business world, which is becoming more internationally focused every day."

The majority of international freshmen come from India, with China and South Korea tying for the number two spot, followed by Canada and Pakistan.

Coupled with the increasing number of international students at Tech is a dramatic rise in the number of students taking foreign language courses. Courses in Arabic, scheduled to debut this fall, are already incredibly popular as are Korean classes, which began last fall. The boom in foreign language courses is occurring despite the fact that Tech has no foreign language requirement.

Tech students this year will also see an influx of international television channels. The Georgia Tech Cable Network (GTCN) is adding 24 international channels to its line-up. The channels will feature 13 different foreign languages including Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, Japanese and French. There will also be eight Spanish language channels.

An informal survey conducted by GTCN suggests their international line-up is larger than those of the cable systems serving the top 25 universities for international students.

The channels will be available to students living on campus and to anyone in the Institute's academic buildings. Mark Adelman, manager of GTCN, said it was Tech's growing population of international students and the rising interest in foreign languages and international affairs that led the network to offer so many international channels.

"These channels won't only be of interest to international students. We think they'll be valuable to professors in the classroom and to all students who are interested in learning foreign languages or about other cultures," said Adelman.

To meet the growing demand for international diversity, Tech is beginning to raise money for a new 20,000-square-foot International House. The new facility would house the Office of International Education, student groups and activities, and a kitchen.

"What we hope to do is to have the International House serve as a place where we provide a bridge between cultures for international students and students from the United States who become involved. It will be a place to share ideas and learn from one another," said Howard Rollins, director of the Office of International Education.

Tech's diversity continues to rise among other groups as well. The number of Asian freshmen (399) is expected to grow 12 percent, while the 26.4 percent gains Hispanic freshmen made last fall are holding steady.

Staying Close to Home

More students are sticking close to home. Tech expects 1,425 freshmen to enroll from Georgia high schools, an increase of 9.2 percent compared to last fall.

The weak economy may have something to do with students choosing to stay closer to home, said Deborah Smith, vice provost of Enrollment Services. "People aren't sure whether or not they can afford to pay out-of-state tuition and are uncertain if the economy will get better," she said.

Money being more of an issue, 12.4 percent fewer freshmen from outside of Georgia are expected to enroll this fall compared to last fall.

Despite the changing demographics, there is one thing that hasn't changed in Tech's freshman class: the academic quality of the students. Average SAT scores and grade-point averages of the freshman class are about the same as last year's averages. Nationally, Tech's SAT scores are the second-highest among public research universities, according to the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings. Tech's SAT scores rank 25th overall.

Fall 2003 Freshman Class Quick Facts

· Number of freshmen expected to enroll - 2,254

· Average high school GPA - 3.74

· Average SAT - 1339

· Number of 1600 SAT scores - 6 freshmen with 1600 test scores; 4 on the same test date; 2 of these were ACT; 1 has 1600 on the SAT and a perfect score on the ACT.

· Average age - 18 years

· Most popular first name:
female - Amanda (17)
male - Michael (70)

· Most popular last name:
female - Lee (9)
male - Smith (14)

· Most popular majors:
Undecided Engineering (487)
Computer Science (213)
Aerospace Engineering (212)

· 43 states and Puerto Rico represented. No freshmen from Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Nevada, North and South Dakota, and West Virginia.

· Top 5 foreign countries:
India (42)
Pakistan (7)
Korea, Republic of (South) (6)
Canada (6)
Columbia (5)

· There are 5 sets of twins.

· There are 98 freshmen who have multiple legacies and 481 with at least one legacy.

· There are 900 high schools represented.

· Fifty-two percent (1,192) of the freshman class submitted a Web application.

· There are 54 National Merit Finalists (UMF) and 20 National Achievement Finalists (UAF).



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