Occidental's Class of 2014 settles in this week, 576 first-year students who aren't just academic high achievers, but are also economically and racially diverse, talented in the arts and on the playing field, and committed to public service.
Ninety-three percent of the freshmen were ranked in the top 25 percent of their high school graduating class, and 62 percent were ranked in the top 10 percent. The students' median combined SAT score is 1940, with a median ACT composite score of 29.
The class comes from a wide range of backgrounds: 26 percent receive federal Pell grants for low- and moderate-income students, and 19 percent are the first in their family to attend college. Forty-two percent are students of color, with almost a quarter coming from under-represented groups: African-American, Latino/a, and Native American/Hawaiian.
Less than half (44 percent) of this year's crop of new students comes from California, with the majority of the Class of 2014 hailing from 31 other states and Washington, D.C. Three percent come from 26 countries around the world, including China, Finland, Germany, and Niger.
A whopping 75 percent of the incoming class play musical instruments, sing, act, make films, or otherwise participate in the performing or visual arts. Almost two-thirds were also members of student service organizations such as the Model UN, Amnesty International, and Habitat for Humanity. In addition, most of the incoming students -- 61 percent - play sports ranging from archery to motocross. The student-athletes include a nationally ranked skier, a national champion in kumdo, the Korean martial art of fencing, and a member of the Canadian national championship girls' heavyweight 8 crew team.
The employment background of the Class of 2014 also reflects a diversity of experience. Besides such typical teen summer jobs as camp counselors and fast-food servers, other jobs included commercial fisherman, children's party entertainer, firefighter, and Web designer.
The first day of classes starts at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept.1. Before that, however, President Jonathan Veitch and Dean Jorge Gonzalez will kick off the College's 124th academic year at the annual Convocation ceremony at 9 a.m. in Thorne Hall.