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Emory selects first members of Class of 2026

The email was delivered Dec. 15 to 804 in-boxes scattered from Georgia to the West Coast — and beyond — with the news that students had been anticipating for months: they had earned Early Decision admission to Emory University’s undergraduate Class of 2026.

Out of a pool of 2,205 Early Decision I applicants, these students are the cornerstone of their class, ready to shape their dreams into reality and make the world a better place for themselves and others.

In keeping with the trends of recent years, including those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Emory’s Early Decision I applications increased 13% over last year and 39% from five years ago. The academic strength and diversity of students who apply also continues to grow, confirming that Emory’s reputation reaches far beyond the immediate area and attracts high-caliber students from around the world.

“We are so pleased to see interest in an Emory education at record levels,” says John F. Latting, associate vice provost for enrollment and dean of admission. “The academic preparation of the Early Decision applicant pool and the diversity of their life experiences, talents and interests was exciting for us to see.”

One unique aspect of Emory is that first-year students choose between two options for where they will begin their Emory experience: Emory College of Arts and Sciences or Oxford College. Emory College, which shares the Atlanta campus with the university’s graduate and professional schools, offers the experience of a liberal arts college in the midst of the energy and pace of a leading research university.

Oxford College, located 38 miles east of the Atlanta campus, is set on Emory’s original campus. This campus, only for first- and second-year students, is a unique opportunity for students to join a close-knit community. As juniors, all Oxford students continue to the Atlanta campus, earning degrees from Emory College, Goizueta Business School or the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

This year, Emory College admitted 673 students and Oxford College admitted 325 students for Early Decision I, 194 of which were admitted to both campuses. These students may now select which campus they’d like to attend.

College admission during COVID-19

Early Decision students are a foundational first step in creating Emory’s Class of 2026  (students who apply to Early Decision commit to enrolling if they are admitted with adequate financial aid). Completing high school and preparing for college can be stressful under any circumstances, but particularly as the pandemic continues. Initial indicators, however, show that these students are hardworking, compassionate and creative despite less-than-ideal circumstances — and they are eager to build on that foundation while at Emory.

With COVID-19 still causing disruptions for many families and communities, Emory remained “test optional” for first-year applicants, meaning students were not required to submit ACT/SAT test scores. Those who chose to submit test scores still could, but removing the requirement alleviated one aspect of college application stress.

“We know that these have been difficult times for all students as they navigate through high school and on to college, and it’s impressive to see what students have managed to accomplish in spite of it all,” Latting says. “I have no doubt that our admitted class is capable of successfully stepping right into our community that values discovery and service to humanity.”

Multiple factors guide the admission committee’s decisions as they consider applicants. Academic records are important, including whether the students made the most of the academic options within the context of their high school and community. Student interests and involvement are also considered, along with letters of recommendation from teachers and school counselors and three short essays from the student. And, as COVID-19 continues to affect the world, the committee takes into account how the pandemic has impacted each applicant’s school, community or family.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with their academic strengths as well as the impact and investment they've made in their communities,” says Kelley Lips, assistant vice provost and dean of Oxford enrollment. “The students who applied demonstrated their enthusiasm and commitment to Emory, and we reciprocate their enthusiasm. There is much to celebrate and build upon as the Class of 2026 takes shape.”

QuestBridge Match Scholars further strengthen the class

Prior to the Early Decision announcement, on Dec. 1 Emory welcomed a new group of 61 QuestBridge Scholars to the Class of 2026, six of whom chose to enroll at Oxford College. This is the university’s largest cohort of scholars since joining QuestBridge in 2007, reinforcing Emory’s commitment to providing access to higher education to talented, low-income students who might not have access to college through their own resources.

“The number of students who want to match with Emory says a lot about the university and the commitment to providing a stellar education to middle- and low-income students from throughout the country,” says Timothy Fields, senior associate dean of admission. “Increasing diversity is an institutional priority, and our relationship with QuestBridge continues to help us move forward with that across multiple areas within a class.”

The QuestBridge National College Match program is a nonprofit that links highly qualified students from low-income backgrounds with 45 of the nation’s leading universities. Through this unique partnership, QuestBridge Match Scholars receive a four-year financial aid award covering full tuition and fees; room and board; and books and supplies. Nationally, 1,674 students were matched with participating universities, with the majority — 81% — being among the first generation in their families to attend a four-year college in the U.S.

“This is one of the strongest, most diverse cohorts of QuestBridge students that we’ve had join Emory,” Fields adds. “These students continued to excel, and even thrive, inside and outside the classroom despite some of the most unfortunate circumstances.”

Emory boasts one of the largest QuestBridge Scholars Networks in the country, with more than 500 students currently enrolled at 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.

‘Overwhelmed’ and  ‘overjoyed’ to be part of Emory

Being “matched” with Emory brings opportunities that many QuestBridge scholars might only dream of having — and they fully appreciate the significance.

“I’m so beyond grateful that I was given this opportunity,” says Ajah Bowser from Pittsburgh. She plans to major in psychology and minor in sociology, possibly on her way to law school.  “Without QuestBridge, I wouldn’t have been able to attend college due to my current financial situation. I’ve always been very driven and have been involved in numerous high-achieving programs and scholar programs to assist my learning experience thus far. I am so grateful and blessed that QuestBridge and Emory invested in me.”

Scholars cite many reasons for their interest in Emory, ranging from the university’s commitment to sustainability and its proximity to all Atlanta has to offer to Emory’s reputation among students as a community rather than a competition.

“I applied to Emory for many reasons, but perhaps the most important is that I wanted to go to a school where I knew I’d be surrounded by bright, genuine and caring individuals — and Emory provides exactly that,” says Jeremy Ahn.

Finding support and building relationships is part of why Ahn decided to begin his Emory studies at Oxford College. “Coming from a class consisting of less than 80 students, Oxford immediately seemed like the perfect fit for me,” says the Dallas, Texas, native who plans to study biology. “I’ve always been used to forming meaningful relationships with all my peers and professors, so Oxford will allow me to continue doing that.”

Saying that “Emory marked all the boxes for what I was looking for in a university,” Christian Pierre-Jullot is similarly excited about life on the Atlanta campus. The south Florida resident likes that Emory is in a city that’s “not overbearing” and that the university has “amazing” psychology and business programs. Plus, he’ll be able to witness leaves changing color in the fall and — maybe — snow.

“Being a scholar has taken such a weight off my shoulders,” he says.

“The day that the Match Day came I was very overwhelmed because this is like a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” says Rigo Mendoza of Odessa, Texas, who plans to either major in biology or begin the pre-med track at Emory College. Whichever he chooses, Mendoza knows he’ll be “an actual person” to his professors rather than a name on a class roll.

“I cannot wait for the intellectual stimulation that will come in attending Emory,” he says, “as well as meeting people from so many backgrounds. I am beyond grateful to have matched to one of the top schools I wanted.”

Robert Jarman was born in Nairobi, Kenya, but has lived in North Carolina for most of his life. Now he’ll find his way to Atlanta and Emory College, where he wants to blend his studies in computer science with other fields such as entrepreneurship.

“My family and I were overjoyed the day we heard that I was a QuestBridge finalist and even more thrilled when I matched with Emory,” Jarman says. “I want to be an outstanding person that can bring significant change to my community, state, country or the world. In my heart, that chance starts with a proper college education. I know little about the college experience as a first-generation student, but I am eager to see how it will shape my future self.”

 

Editor’s note: All data accurate as of Dec. 14, 2021.