University of Pittsburgh
June 11, 2000


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, June 12 -- With more than 1,000 in the top ten percent of their high school class, with a 24 point jump in SAT scores, and with a double digit hike in the percentage of Honors College-eligible students, the academic credentials for the entering freshman class at the University of Pittsburgh have shown some of the most significant increases yet in what has been a five-year upward trend.

Among the approximately 3,000 new freshmen entering the University this fall, 34 percent are in the top ten percent of their high school graduating class and 62 percent are in the top 20 percent. That is up from 30 percent and 55 percent respectively for last year's freshman class, and an increase from 19 percent and

43 percent respectively for the freshman class that entered in the fall of 1995.

In terms of actual numbers, more than 1,000 of this fall's freshmen graduated in the top ten percent of their high school classes, more than double the 460 freshmen who were in the top ten percent five years ago.

This year's entering students have an average combined SAT score of 1189, 24 points higher than last year, and 50 points higher than five years ago.

One of the most dramatic increases over the past five years has been in the number of new freshmen eligible to enroll in the University's Honors College. This year, 728 students -- 24 percent of the freshman class -- are Honors-eligible, more than double the 340 who were eligible in 1995, and an 18 percent increase over last year. These students all rank in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating classes and have an average combined SAT score of 1335.

This year's entering freshmen were chosen from a much larger applicant pool. The University received 13,492 applications this year, a 72 percent increase over 1995 levels.

Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg attributed the increase in both numbers and quality of applicants in part to the "enthusiastic marketplace reaction" to what the University has to offer.

"The emphasis that the University has been placing on the quality of undergraduate education is clearly reflected in our efforts to create the best possible environment for living and learning at this University," Nordenberg said. "Over the past five years, we have put in place a number of programs that enable our students to maximize their opportunities for both academic and personal growth. Indicators of the success of our efforts can be seen in both the significant growth in demand for a Pitt undergraduate education and in terms of the academic credentials of the students who enroll in the University."

Nordenberg noted that some of the efforts aimed at strengthening undergraduate education have involved physical improvements, such as classroom renovations, new and upgraded residence halls, and enhanced technological infrastructure. Other efforts have involved outreach, including the Pitt Arts program, and an increased emphasis on students spending time studying abroad.

"Some of our most important efforts have focused on the very human processes that are at the heart of what we do, such as our emphasis on achieving ever increasing levels of instructional excellence," he said.