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By January of this year, a record-breaking 54,161 applicants had applied to join BU’s Class of 2018. Less than four months later, only 34 percent were admitted, the lowest percentage in BU’s history. Like the Class of 2017, this year’s accepted students come from the top 9 percent of their high school class and have an A- average.

“Our goal is to enroll 3,700 freshmen,” says Kelly Walter, an associate vice president and executive director of admissions. “By every measure, the Class of 2018 is quite impressive, and this has been an extraordinarily competitive year for admission to Boston University.”

Academics isn’t the only area where these students excel; one earned an Emmy nomination for an original musical composition, another formed a Texas junior roller derby league, and a third created a robot that helps transport injured skiers down mountains. On the Class of 2018 Facebook page, members have already begun chatting about how to get involved with the First Year Student Outreach Project (FYSOP) and intramural sports.

What these achievements and interests show, says Walter, is that academics isn’t the only thing that matters to the accepted students. “They’re not just bright—they’re talented and inquisitive and will make a tremendous impact on the BU community. What their achievements say to me is the Class of 2018 wants to make a difference in the world in which we live.”

While BU’s overall admissions rate was just over one-third of students, it was much tighter in certain schools and colleges, such as the School of Management, which admitted only 20 percent of applicants. The single most competitive program for admission was Kilachand Honors College. It had more than 9,200 applicants, and only 9 percent of them were accepted. Kilachand students enroll in one of BU’s undergraduate schools, but take a quarter of their credits through the college.

Applicants came from all 50 states (plus Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands) and 156 countries around the world. Applications from international students increased nearly 18 percent—to 11,471—from last year. Of that number, 19.5 percent were accepted.

The largest group of accepted international students comes from China. Walter has worked hard to build relationships with some of China’s top public high schools for the past five years, since they began opening their doors to a handful of US college admissions officials.

She says that while the admissions team often uses social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to communicate with prospective freshmen, students in China are unable to access these social media networks. To counter that, admissions staff has taken advantage of BU’s growing presence on Weibo, the web-based communication tool used in China, to encourage students to attend upcoming receptions in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong and to answer questions about academic and student life at BU.

All students have until May 1 to make their decision.