A Class Apart

By President Robert A. Oden Jr.

Rob OdenThe incoming Class of 2013 includes 49 international students, the most in Carleton history.

It can seem—and in some ways is—an annual miracle: every year our admissions staff gather thousands of applications from committed, engaged, curious applicants and from them assemble the next Carleton class. However, to label the success of the admissions staff as something of a miracle is not quite right or just, since their success involves countless hours of expert work and judgment. Nor are they alone in their efforts. Most of those who enroll at Carleton have spent some time on campus, and it is the faculty and staff members and students whom they meet during their visits who persuade them to choose Carleton—and, in most cases, to choose Carleton over other first-rate colleges and universities that also have offered them admission.

The Class of 2013 is a strong candidate for our finest class yet. The something over 500 first-year students who join us this fall exhibit the defining Carleton traits of intellectual curiosity, engagement with life and learning, and a lively sense of humor. They were selected from 5,000 applicants. Our incoming class represents 44 states, with Massachusetts tying New York for fourth place among states represented this year, just behind Minnesota, Illinois, and California. Representation from students of color in the Class of 2013 is the second highest total in our history.

The incoming class includes 49 international students, the most in Carleton history. This is anything but an accident: our increasing internationalization—among students and faculty and staff members, in our curriculum, in off-campus studies programs, and more—is intentional. Carleton’s commitment to a global emphasis has a long and rich history. Nearly a century ago, decades in advance of most college leaders, President Donald Cowling argued that the future of the liberal arts must include broader engagement with the international world. 

Carleton has made signal progress over recent years in fulfilling President Cowling’s vision. Today international students make up 9 percent of the Class of 2013. Many long-term faculty members have described this change, this forward motion in our looking around the globe for future Carleton students, as the greatest and most positive change for the College in their collective memory. 

Minnesota’s own Thomas Friedman is right—the world is flat. The economic and political and cultural and linguistic interconnection of today’s globe knows no historical parallels. This increasing interconnection has led Carleton to add Arabic to our language offerings and is responsible for our rich and growing collection of Carleton-led off-campus study programs, both during our regular terms and during the winter break. 

What is perhaps most distinctive about the students from around the globe who join Carleton today is that they are eligible to receive—and many do receive—need-based aid. Many U.S. colleges and universities see international students chiefly or solely as those who pay the full comprehensive fee. At Carleton, our international students are as economically diverse, as diverse in every way, as our students from the United States.

Continuing and enhancing this variety is among the key goals of our current fund-raising campaign, whose goals are all aimed toward preparing our students for an unparalleled increase in global connectedness.

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