Growing up in the San Fernando Valley area of southern California, Sydney Schneider had one criterion for her college search that was absolute: the school had to be on the East Coast.
Anxious to get away and forge her own path, Schneider visited a number of schools, but her mind was made up when she visited Union last summer and again in the spring.
"The people I met were just amazing," she said. "I really didn't know what to expect, but everyone was open and welcoming. They made me feel at home. I felt the school really fit my personality. By the time I left, I thought, 'I could really see myself here.' "
Schneider, who plans to major in English and Women's and Gender Studies, is among the 564 first-year students in the Class of 2017 who will officially begin their Union experience Sunday, Sept. 8.
At 9 a.m., students can begin moving into their residence halls. At 3 p.m., following a series of activities and routine tasks, such as getting ID cards, students and their families will receive an official welcome from Acting President Therese McCarty and other College leaders in Memorial Chapel. At 3:45 p.m., the students will say goodbye to their families before heading off to group orientation activities. There are two new events for parents: a tea in Schaffer Library from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and a reception hosted by Alumni Relations at 3:45 p.m. in Abbe Hall.
At 6:30 p.m., the students pose for a class picture at the Nott Memorial. Orientation activities continue on Monday, with a full slate of programs, including a talk by Andre Dubus, author of Townie (this year's summer reading for incoming students).
The Class of 2017 was chosen from a record 5,725 applications, a 19 percent jump from four years ago. The admit rate was 37 percent, the school's lowest. One of the College's most diverse classes, its also one of the brightest, with 63 percent of the students ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class, a 5 percent increase from a year ago.
The class represents 26 states and 13 countries. Like Schneider, more than a quarter of the class is coming from beyond the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic region as the College continues to extend its reach.
Joining the first-years are more than two dozen top transfer students, ranging from community colleges to schools such as the College of Holy Cross, George Washington University and United States Military Academy.
"As Union becomes increasingly selective, my staff understands the responsibility to find the best students to lead conversations in the classroom, work closely with their professors on topics of research," said Matt Malatesta, vice president for Admissions, Financial Aid and Enrollment. "They take on the many leadership opportunities here, building on the legacy of the great students (now alumni) who have come before them, I'm confident all of our newest students will meet the challenge. We can't wait to see them on campus."
Residence halls open for returning students Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Fall term classes begin Wednesday, Sept. 11.
Opening Convocation, in which the Union community celebrates the official start of the academic year, is set for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10 in Memorial Chapel, followed by an all-campus barbecue on Rugby Field.