A strong start: Emory welcomes first students in Class of 2024
By Lisa Coetzee | Emory Report | Dec. 12, 2019
See the excited reactions of some of the first students admitted to Emory's Class of 2024.
Call them Early Deciders, the growing wave of clear-eyed high school students who research and commit to the next step in their academic journeys a full calendar year before they actually begin university life.
On Wednesday, Dec. 11, 730 students received news of their admission to either Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College or both campuses. This year, Emory College admitted 580 students and Oxford College admitted 295 students for Early Decision I, with 145 who were admitted to both campuses and may now select where they go.
Students who apply to any university in Early Decision commit to a binding agreement, meaning if they are admitted to that university and receive adequate financial aid, they will enroll there. Essentially, the student is saying “this university is truly my first choice.”
Emory’s Office of Admission staff began reviewing the 1,812 Early Decision I applicants in early November. Through a thoughtful review process, the admission committee considered each student’s academic record: Did they make the most of the academic options within the context of their high school and community? From there, staff reviewed letters of recommendation from teachers and school counselors, as well as three short essays from the student, to select the students offered admission Wednesday evening.
These Early Decision admissions form the foundational first step in creating Emory’s Class of 2024. And early indicators suggest that it promises to be a tremendous group of young scholars.
“The applicant pool has so much talent in it — and it is incredibly strong and diverse as well,” says John Latting, dean of admission and associate vice provost of enrollment. “These are areas where we continue to advance. Our staff feels the responsibility to make the most of this as we admit and enroll tremendous first-year classes each year.”
First-year students have two options to begin their Emory experience: Emory College or Oxford College. Located 38 miles east of the Atlanta campus, Oxford is Emory’s original campus. This campus, only for first- and second-year students, is a unique opportunity for students to be immersed in a traditional liberal arts environment and close-knit community. As juniors, all Oxford students continue to the Atlanta campus, joining their peers and earning degrees from Emory College, Goizueta Business School or the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.
“We are excited to welcome the first members of the Class of 2024,” says Kelley Lips, Oxford College dean of enrollment services. “This cohort continues the momentum of students being highly engaged both inside and outside of the classroom, and we are constantly inspired by the magnitude of their achievements. My colleagues and I look forward to the impact that they will have on the Oxford campus and overall Emory communities."
'An explosion of happiness'
For hundreds of EDI students, being admitted to Emory marked both the end to weeks of nail-biting wonder and the beginning of a brand new chapter in their academic lives. “Finally hearing the news, that was quite a roller coaster of emotions,” says Lance Hahn, an EDI applicant from Anaheim Hills, about an hour southeast of Los Angeles, California.
“Going to the (online admission) portal was intense, especially with a crowd of friends watching me,” Hahn says. “But once I clicked on the update, it was just an explosion of happiness. It turned into a really inspiring moment. We were all screaming.”
Hahn was drawn to Emory by a friend’s strong recommendation. “The more I looked into it, the more I loved what I found,” he says. “A culture that was collaborative, but not cut-throat, that offered academic rigor with a high emphasis on kindness.”
At the moment, he’s interested in studying both economics and psychology. But for someone who’s also deeply engaged in his school’s advanced film studies program — he and his peers are now wrapping up submissions to an Orange County film festival — Hahn is also excited to learn more about Atlanta’s burgeoning film industry.
“I haven’t visited campus yet, so I’m definitely looking forward to meeting new people, stepping outside my comfort zone and expanding my boundaries,” he says. “I feel like finding Emory and choosing Early Decision helped make me feel comfortable about saying, ‘This is the place I want to go. I’m setting my sights on it.’”
Emory’s continued QuestBridge partnership
At the same time that Emory is recognizing Early Decision I admitted students, the university is also welcoming a new group of QuestBridge scholars.
The QuestBridge National College Match program is a national non-profit that links highly qualified students from low-income backgrounds with the nation’s leading universities. The aim is to increase the percentage of talented, low-income students attending the nation’s best colleges — more than 40 partner institutions, including Emory.
Students who are finalists in the competitive program can select from any number of elite institutions, but many specifically listed Emory as a top choice. QuestBridge Match Scholars receive a four-year financial aid award covering full tuition and fees.
This year the university matched with 29 students from across the nation. Many of these students are the first in their families to attend college. Nationally, 1,127 students were matched with participating universities.
For students like Kristopher Wallen, a high school senior from Coral Springs, Florida, being accepted as a QuestBridge scholar instantly expanded his horizons. “It didn’t hit me how large and life-changing it was until I saw it was an actual full ride,” says Wallen. “This will allow me to pursue what I really want to do.”
With family in the area, he had toured the Emory campus a few years ago. But it wasn’t until he visited through the CORE (Cultural Overnight Recruitment Experience) program that his eyes were fully opened to what the university offers.
Designed to support talented, high-achieving high school seniors from underrepresented backgrounds in their college search, CORE gave Wallen a chance to stay in Emory residential halls and talk with current students, sit in on classes and visit with faculty. And it made a big impression.
“Visiting campus, you’re struck by how beautiful it is,” he says. “Everyone I met was open, accepting and kind — that doesn’t happen at a lot of campuses.”
He left impressed by the personal connections he made — professors who talked to him about undergraduate research opportunities, then answered his follow-up questions by email, students who described ways to engage in campus life right away, the random smiles and open minds.
For Wallen, who plans to study political science and history with aspirations of attending law school, “it helped me see that there are a lot of options here for someone with a love of history and humanities,” he says. “And I’m really looking forward to being part of a larger community of people who share my interests and passions.”
Jayden Behling, a QuestBridge scholar from Silsbee, Texas, yearns to study epidemiology. The chance to attend Emory “feels like a dream," she says. In fact, when she first opened an email about the program, she thought it had to be spam. “No way,” Behling recalls, laughing. “My mom had to look at it to convince me it was real.”
Behling has always known that she would need scholarship support to attend college. “Coming from a low-income household, that’s just the way it was,” she says. “But I love learning, especially science — knowing that we can understand so much about our world, and yet there is so much we still don’t know.
“The chance to learn from the best minds at the best school and enter my chosen field, epidemiology — I never thought I would be able to achieve that,” she says. “When I found Emory, I realized it was everything I never thought I would ever find in one school, every opportunity I ever daydreamed of experiencing.”
“I feel so lucky, so beyond grateful to QuestBridge and to Emory,” she adds.
A community of scholars
This year for the first time, students matched with Emory University were given the option to enroll at either Emory College or Oxford College.
It’s a partnership that, for Emory, offers many benefits. “As a national non-profit organization, QuestBridge helps Emory reach students in many places that we, as a university, are simply unable to visit,” says Timothy Fields, senior associate dean of admission.
With a wide-ranging reach that includes rural areas and smaller towns, QuestBridge allows Emory to be a part of the student’s college search process, as students begin to explore top-tier universities, Fields says.
For many years, Emory has been home to one of the largest QuestBridge Scholars networks in the country, with more than 450 students currently on the Atlanta or Oxford campuses. Members include the previous years’ match scholars as well as other QuestBridge students who enroll through Regular Decision. This active student-run organization provides an authentic and supportive community, helping students navigate the transition to college. The organization also hosts practical workshops and fun social events throughout the year.
Fields notes that Emory’s campus diversity is strengthened by applicants who learn about Emory through QuestBridge, not only in areas of race and ethnicity, but also student experiences, belief systems and backgrounds. This multi-faceted approach to diversity is an important part of building Emory’s vibrant undergraduate community, he notes.
“With what we’ve seen so far this year, through both Early Decision I and QuestBridge, we believe it’s going to be another strong year for the university,” Latting says, expressing confidence in the academic strength and commitment to impact that will emerge within the rest of this year’s applicants.
Editor’s note: All data accurate as of Dec. 11, 2019.