LEXINGTON, Ky.—The incoming class at Transylvania University is the most geographically, racially and ethnically diverse class in the history of the school.
Nine percent of the 274 students in the class of 2018 are from outside the United States, and 19 percent identify themselves as a member of a racial or ethnic minority group. Both are school records. Thirty-one percent of the class is from outside Kentucky, the highest percentage since 1974.
Those statistics are partly a result of enhanced recruiting efforts stemming from the university’s 2011 Strategic Enrollment Plan, which calls for a more diverse campus.
“We’ve been more intentional about recognizing that a more diverse community creates a richer teaching and learning environment for our students and provides them with more opportunities,” Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions Brad Goan said. “We’ve been actively engaging community-based organizations and schools and school districts where there are more diverse populations.”
The efforts have been paying off, and not just by quantifiable metrics. In a recent profile compiled by The Princeton Review, one anonymous student praised Transylvania for its culture, saying, “We…have a huge population of individuals from different backgrounds, including differences in sexual orientation, class, religion, region, and political orientation.”
To go along with the strong diversity numbers, the class is academically the strongest the school has ever seen, with an ACT middle 50 percent of 25-30, seven National Merit Scholars, and 45 graduates of the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars program, the Governor’s School for the Arts or the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurship. Half of the students graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class.
“We’re really excited that the quality of students continues to improve,” Goan said. “This makes everyone’s experience stronger.”
Goan noted, however, that academic achievement in high school is not the only factor for admission. Many students will get the opportunity to reach their full potential in small, challenging classes with professors who are motivated to see those students succeed.
“This is a place for students who come with a variety of academic backgrounds,” he said. “One thing that is true about Transylvania is we have students with perfect ACT scores and GPAs and students with academic records that they want to improve. Those students can work together, learn from each other and push each other in this environment, and that’s exciting.”
The first-year students arrived on campus Aug. 8 for August term, a unique three-week session where they get oriented to college life and participate in the First Engagements academic seminar. This year’s theme is “Identity and Belonging in a Changing World.”