Dean Burdick’s Welcome to the Class of 2014

By Jonathan Burdick

Welcome again to the University of Rochester Class of 2014! I’m looking forward to meeting you on campus this summer and fall.

As enrolling students, you will receive important information within the next few weeks about housing and dining, orientation, health care and many other facts and figures from the campus offices that are also eager to meet you.  Look for it, because included will be several forms you need to return and a checklist of dates.

We’re expecting to enroll about 1,170 students in Rochester’s 160th incoming College class, much bigger than last year and among our largest ever. I’ll post many details and comparisons about your extraordinary incoming Class over the weeks ahead on our website and blogs, but some major interesting facts (mostly for the College only) are…

  • Largest applicant pool: 12,697 for the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering alone, plus thousands more for the Eastman School of Music
  • Biggest geographic spread: even though we have more students from New York State than last year, for the first time they’ll be less than 40% of the total. Almost half of our students are coming from other US states and 12% are coming from 57 different countries.
  • More diverse backgrounds: 1/3 are native speakers of languages other than English and nearly a third are students of color.
  • In one way we’re always balanced: the class will be 51% male and 49% female.
  • The top interests for majors are still engineering (219), biology (153), undeclared (106) and economics (101), but your interests are widespread. It’s a record year for several social sciences: anthropology, history, and international relations; one science department (physics and astronomy); and one humanities department (modern languages). That’s well-timed because Rochester has also had a great year attracting new faculty in many of the same disciplines.
  • Average SAT (1996) and GPA (3.76 unweighted) are both new records.
  • More than 50 International Baccalaureate Diploma recipients and 26 National Merit Scholars are both records.
  • More high school award winners than ever in all four categories (Bausch & Lomb, George Eastman, Frederick Douglass/Susan B. Anthony and Xerox)
  • A record 14% are coming with a Rochester family connection (parents, grandparents, and/or siblings attended)

Now that you are up to date about your class, I need your help.  It’s time to decide what we’ll be asking the  Class of 2015 applicants to tell us about themselves on our application supplement.  You not only know Rochester, but you just went through the application process yourself.  So, send us your best ideas about what you think those questions should be.  We’re looking for 2-3 questions that will:

  1. provoke interesting, candid answers
  2. help us understand the student better than the Common App alone
  3. help us understand how Rochester will be a good potential fit

Please understand that our goal is to provoke answers that will highlight the best of each applicant, not to impress people with clever questions.  Creative questions are great, but too often they lead anxious students to write safe, dull answers.

You can submit your questions as a comment to this blog post if you want them to be public, or send private email suggestions to

The Admissions staff wants to review your submissions by May 21, 2010 to consider including them in next year’s supplement. You can submit as many questions as you like. If we choose your question, we’ll give you a $100 campus bookstore credit as a thank-you for helping us.

Enjoy your proms, ceremonies and summer months (winter for some of our Africans and South Americans!) I’ll be glad to see you soon.

Jonathan Burdick
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
University of Rochester

About the author


URAdmissions features guest bloggers (both students and staff) who write about specialized programs, events, and opportunities at Rochester.

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  • hello my name’s Moonsuk Kim and I’ll probably the only one in class of 14 who got his acceptance through phone on April 2nd 2010.
    University of Rochester was the last and only school that I really wanted to hear a positive result. I was utterly amazed that I got a call from one of the head officers at UR admissions (probably mr.burdick)
    I believe that applicants should apply UR because they know and want to be part of the community just as I have been.
    What I felt writing my commonapp supplement was that the space was so limited to show how I was fascinated to the institution.
    Therefore I came up with some questions
    1. Why is University of Rochester for you (applicants)?
    or what makes you so special (what have you done) to
    University of rochester?
    2. What is your ultimate goal as undergraduate at UR and how will UR be when you become who you want to be in the future? (Is it just going to be a institution for diploma or a place you would call home?)
    3. (Optional essay) Use one of these words as a topic to write an essay, poem, fiction, or a play: snow, meliora, dandelion, lilac, yellow

  • Hi,
    I wish I could have answered this question when I was applying:
    Compare either yourself or the University of Rochester or both to a food and explain why you chose that food to be your analogy.
    -Aviva Schaffer

  • I think that the essay questions that are given to students are often too open and static. Not against the freedom that my applications gave me, I felt that I was abandoned and expected to come up with some brilliant topic that would dazzle the admissions people by some miracle. So, here are questions that I think would be good for the next incoming class:
    1.) How has your education shaped you today? Were there any teacher or specific courses that have truly influenced you to possess your interests and become the person that you are today?
    2.) Why do you think that the University of Rochester is the place where you want to further your goals? What advantages do you see for yourself?
    3.) If you were to be given one chance do something completely and perfectly whether for yourself or another, what would do and why?

  • 1. When you are asked why you are applying to the University of Rochester, what factor about this school is the first thing that comes to mind? Why does that stand out more than anything else about the University of Rochester?
    2. Please list the top five adjectives that describe you and explain how those aspects would make you a good fit at the University of Rochester.

  • I would have liked more introspective questions. I believe the extent of ones mind is as far as one knows himself. Also, I would like some questions to lead to some creative action (new format of essay, a poem, etc.). Therefore the questions would be as follows:
    1) Please write an exploratory or stream of consciousness essay that addresses one of the following statements or questions:
    a) “Don’t worry about impressing others, impress yourself. Who are you trying to please, anyway?” Mark McKeon
    b) “I am more and more convinced that our unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves.” Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt
    c) What does it mean to be?
    d) How do we know reality is real?
    e) Who are you?
    [With the stream of consciousness essay, it is expected for the writer to get off topic in order to explore their mind fully]
    2) Write, in any format you want (story, poem, song, dialogue,etc.), an answer to this question: Do you want to live forever? Why or why not? And what does living forever mean to you?
    3) Write a narration about the best day of your life.
    4) If you were to form a club for the University of Rochester, what would it be? Write what the club would entail and its mission statement.
    5) What is one of your flaws and how would you go about to turn the flaw into a good character trait?
    6) What would you do for a _____________? Fill in the blank and answer the question in any format you want.
    7) If you were to have an accent for a day, what would it be and why?
    Name one thing you would fix about the world and how you would go about helping the problem.
    9) Write a dialogue between you and someone you admire. What would be the setting of the talk and what would be said? [Write it in the format of a play or a story]
    10) Write a speech for or against a certain topic of your choice. Please make it engaging and fun (in other words the speech should only be semi-formal).
    Thank you for taking your time to read all of my suggestions

  • If you were conducting interviews of University of Rochester applicants, what do you think would be the most important question to ask and why? How would you answer this question?

  • Hi U of R~!
    In my opinion, the essay topic of “What is one special aspect about you?” is one that should be included in the essay choices. Not only does it allow a student to talk about, or expand on, what they love (like a hobby), it also allows them the freedom to be creative in the style and composition of their responses. With this question, U of R readers can develop a better sense of the reader’s personality.
    One question that I particularly favor is “What is an important issue to you/you are passionate about?” For me, this would include topics such as gay rights. This question allows the student to fully express their stance on world issues, as well as more personal ones if they so choose.
    Of course, more creative questions are welcomed as well. For example, the topic “What animal do you most represent?” (or “most want to be like”) has the potential to be an interesting one. Through descriptions about the qualities they want to have, U of R readers can observe many aspects of the student. As an example, a student could be able to say that they want to be a bald eagle because they would like to share the keen intuition to help them succeed.
    Thank you for considering my suggestions!
    Melody (Muyun) Zhao~ :]

  • Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. Your insight in extremely valuable and your questions are all very well thought out. I look forward to sharing them with the admissions staff.

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