St. Olaf's newest class arrived on campus on Aug. 31 and has already made a positive impression on the staff and faculty as well as the rest of the student body.
According to information provided by the Admissions Office, the Class of 2006 is quite diverse and has many distinguishing characteristics.
Out of 2,624 applicants, 1,906 were admitted and 785 chose to matriculate at St. Olaf, making the class of 2006 the largest in recent years.
The ratio of women to men is fairly large, with 61 percent female and 39 percent male.
Fifty-five percent are from Minnesota, and 45 percent from 42 other states and several foreign countries.
Ten percent of the class is made up of ethnic minorities.
Over half of the students indicated an affiliation with the Lutheran church, with the next biggest group being Catholic (15 percent).
In all, over 20 different religions are represented.
One of the most notable characteristics for this class is their level of academic excellence.
Fifteen percent graduated as either valedictorians or salutatorians of their high schools and half of the class finished in the top 10 percent.
The median ACT score is a 27, and the average SAT score is 1270. There are 47 National Merit Scholars, which is the most of any class.
According to Christian Hakala, associate director of admissions, this first-year class is fluent in 20 different languages, the most a class has ever had.
Other notable accomplishments of the class include a 1999 Team USA Rollerhockey Captain, a mascot of a minor league baseball team, and a student who has participated in two triathalons.
They also boast a volunteer firefighter, a student who attended the National Student Leadership Conference on National Diplomacy, a member of the Young Men's Muslim Association, and a captain of both swim and basketball team state champions.
As always, expectations for this first-year class are high.
"They bring a tremendous amount of diversity to St. Olaf, which is important to the institution and to us," Hakala said.
They bring racial diversity, religious diversity, and diversity of backgrounds."
The diversity of the Class of 2006 promises to increase community awareness and understanding.
Hoyme Junior Counselor Adam Fix 04 noted the energy and friendliness among the first-year students.
"Guys have been really open about stopping by and asking questions," Fix said.
"They are very open and are not relying on any previous expectations about college," Fix added. "They are just very excited to be here."