In his welcome address to the Class of 2013, Interim Dean of Admissions Scott Meiklejohn painted an impressive picture of the incoming first years: two Abercrombie and Fitch models, 273 class valedictorians, 42 perfect SAT scores on the SAT, a writer published in the New Yorker, a National Geographic photographer, and the youngest American woman to climb Mt. Everest.

Then, at the height of his address, as first years scrambled to find out who the famous few were, Meiklejohn made another announcement: Only one of the things on his laundry list of accomplishments was true, and he was going to leave it to the Class of 2013 to figure out which.

"Starting now, what you did in high school, and what happened that earned you your admission to Bowdoin...your awesome accomplishments that might or might not have been on that list, that I mostly made up, all that is a lot less important than what you will do next," he said.

While Meiklejohn was unwilling to reveal which statement was true at this point in time, he did say that Bowdoin accepted 19.4 percent of its 5,940 applicants this year, with a final enrollment of 494 students in the Class of 2013. This represents five more students than the Class of 2012, which had an 18.6 percent acceptance rate of 6,033 candidates.

As for the decrease in applications, Meiklejohn said he wasn't worried.

"Two of our peers were up significantly, Brown and Wesleyan, but most of our peer schools were down between five and 20 percent. Looking at everyone's results...we were happy to be down only 1.5 percent," he said.

While total applications were down slightly, Associate Dean of Admissions Peter Wiley said Early Decision applications and acceptances were on par with last year. Of the 694 Early Decision applicants for the class of 2013, 202 or 41 percent of the total class enrolled early decision. Last year, of the 690 Early Decision applicants for the class of 2012, 204 or 42 percent of the total class enrolled early.

Six percent of students in Bowdoin's diverse Class of 2013 have an international background, while 31 percent are students of color.

Applications close to home were up this year, as 493 students from Maine applied for admission; 63 more applications than the Class of 2012.

"We were up significantly in applications from Maine students...though the number of Mainers in the entering class is identical to last year," said Meiklejohn. "My guess is the ripple effect of Bowdoin's no-loan announcement sort of had an impact closer to home."

Including Maine, 39 states and 17 different countries are represented in the Class of 2013, down from the 41 states and 22 countries in the Class of 2012. This year, 60 percent of students are from outside of New England, on par with the Class of 2012.

"Our number of countries and states represented are stable compared to prior years," said Senior Dean of Admissions Elizabeth Soule.

Although the Class of 2013 is comparable in size to previous years, Director of Student Aid Steven Joyce said financial aid awards have increased. Fifty-five percent of admitted students applied for aid from the College, and 40 percent of the matriculating Class of 2013 is receiving aid.

The average Bowdoin grant this year is $31,675, while the range of grants spans from $2,900 to $51,100.

Based on the recent success of the Capital Campaign, Bowdoin's total financial aid budget for 2009-2010 increased to $24,020,000.

"We have more students on aid than we've had, and the average grant has gone up as well," Joyce said. "The College was pretty generous in bumping things up and taking into account that this year might be a tougher year for families."

While the Class of 2013 shares its differences—some from Maine, others from abroad; some paying tuition out of pocket, and others on full financial aid—Mieklejohn did reassure students that they have a home at Bowdoin.

"You all belong here. That I can say for sure," he said. "I am proud to be part of your welcome...and I am incredibly excited to see what you will do at this very special college."

-Gemma Leghorn contributed to this report.