Before they even stepped on campus, the students of Fordham University’s Class of 2010 had big shoes to fill. “We’re so happy to see the new freshmen come, it comforts us on the loss of our senior class,” said Robert Grimes, S.J., dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center. “This freshman class has a lot to live up to.”
Kyle Kloster is looking forward to the challenge. Kloster is a freshman at the Rose Hill campus, a St. Louis, Miss., native and a product of the Jesuit St. Louis University High School. Kloster picked Fordham for its proximity to New York City, top-notch academics and the tradition of achievement like that displayed by last year’s graduates. “The fact that Fordham is a Jesuit school was a bonus,” said Kloster. “The Jesuits were very good to me in high school.”
Just months ago, the University’s Class of 2006 graduated winners of the prestigious Fulbright fellowship, the star of a Broadway musical, the winner of an MTV student film award and several award-winning student journalists; major accomplishments that would point to great success at any college. But if the preliminary data is any indication, when they leave four years from now, Kloster and the rest of the Class of 2010 will have no problem standing among the best the University has produced.
Competition has increased at Fordham over the years, and no group is more competitive than the Class of 2010, according to John Buckley, assistant vice president of undergraduate admissions. “This is certainly the most selective group we’ve ever experienced,” he said.
This year 18,100 prospective students applied to the University, a large jump from the 15,166 that applied for the Class of 2009. Forty-six percent of those applicants were accepted this year, making the Class of 2010 the most competitive group Fordham has ever seen. In comparison, the Class of 2000 saw a 70 percent acceptance rate for 5,357 applicants.
The lower acceptance rates are not just a product of a larger applicant pool, but the higher level of academic achievement of incoming classes. SAT scores for the Class of 2010 have risen to an average of 1205, an 84-point difference from the Class of 2000, which scored an impressive 1121, considerably higher than that year’s national average of 1013. Thirty-nine percent of this year’s class come from the top ten percent of their high school class, compared to 35 percent of the Class of 2009.
“We made great gains over the past two years, especially last year, and we’re moving in the right direction,” said Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill.
The Fordham experience has also gotten more diverse both in ethnic and geographic makeup. Twenty-seven percent of the Class of 2010 identifies itself as a minority, compared to 24 percent who did so last year. And though the school still pulls the majority of its students from New York and the surrounding area, the University has increased representation in its student body from states like Illinois, Florida, California and Ohio. Buckley said that students from 42 states are a part of the Class of 2010.
Academic offerings at Fordham University have gotten more diverse as well. In 1998, the University began to offer a bachelor of fine arts program in dance through a partnership with the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Less than a decade later, the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. Program in Dance has become one of the most competitive in the United States, accepting just 15 percent of applicants and regularly competing with the Julliard School for potential students. Two-thirds of all graduates in the dance program find work in their field following graduation, a high rate of accomplishment for any dance program, and one that Father Grimes called “astonishing,” especially since the program is still in its adolescence. “We went from not existing to a lower than 15 percent acceptance rate,” Father Grimes said.
High achievement at the University is by no means limited to the liberal arts colleges. Donna Rapaccioli, interim dean of the College of Business Administration, pointed out that her school’s class of 2006 was the most successful in its history. A record percentage of graduates are gaining employment after graduation, said Rapaccioli, and the average starting salary for those graduates—$52,500—is the highest that CBA has ever seen. Taken together, these factors have helped to make CBA one of the top 50 business schools in the nation according to Business Week. With the addition of new programs at CBA, from a new freshman enrichment program to ensuring each student receives The Wall Street Journal every day, Rapaccioli is confident that CBA’s Class of 2010 will have no problem matching or surpassing the success of previous graduating classes.
“This incoming class is of outstanding quality, and they are going to hit the ground running,” said Rapaccioli. “We’re giving them the tools to develop their business sense earlier, so that they can be even more successful. When you graduate from CBA you have a lot of opportunities, and the biggest firms are will to pay for you. We all expect that will be no different for the Class of 2010.”
Fordham’s increasing competitiveness means that not only are more prospective students applying to the University, they are also trying to get in early. In 1996, the University saw between 200 and 250 applicants through its early admissions program. Under a new, less binding program, just under 4,000 prospective students applied early to become members of the Class of 2010, an astronomical increase from prior years.
“Students are entering the application process very much earlier,” said Buckley, who noted that 70 percent of those students are applying to the University online, an option that was not even available for the Class of 2000.
Some of the best reasons for choosing Fordham come not from statistics, but from a sense of what one can become. An English major and member of the honors program, Kloster plans to be more than just a number when he graduates, and feels that Fordham will prepare him both in mind and in character for success beyond his graduation.
“I want to be known as a moral person, a hard worker,” said Kloster. “I want to know not just how to do things, but how to do things the right way. Fordham is the right place to do that.”
By John DeSio, FCRH ’00