The Office of Undergraduate Admissions received 29,714 freshmen applications for next fall and has projected that the freshman class of Fall 2016 will be a record-breaking number of students.
According to an undergraduate admissions report, the incoming freshman class will show an increase of students by approximately 1.5 to 2 percent, compared to Fall 2015.
“The increase is to be expected, in part given the record classes we’ve had for the last three to four years,” said Provost Gene Bourgeois.
Officials from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions are responsible for compiling undergraduate admissions reports and disseminating them to relevant parties on campus. The reports are reviewed weekly by the provost.
“We have received 29,714 freshmen applications for Fall 2016, so we are up by 4,150 applicants (from fall 2015),” said Stephanie Anderson, assistant vice president for enrollment management and director of undergraduate admissions. “That’s a 16.2 percent increase over last year.”
According to the report, 14,980 applicants have already been accepted, which is 1,912 more than the number of applicants accepted for Fall 2015, indicating a 14.7 percent increase.
However, this will not be as significant an increase as the university has seen in the past five to six years, Bourgeois said.
“We’re looking at an increase of 1.5-2 percent in terms of the incoming freshman class and a larger increase among graduate students,” Bourgeois said. “Right now all we can do is note the number of applications we are receiving, and the number of acceptances sent out since last year.”
Bourgeois said the number of graduate student applications increased by about five percent and the number of students offered graduate positions increased by eight percent.
Other notable changes are afoot as far as the student population is concerned.
“We have had an apparent increase in the quality for applicants for admissions as well,” Bourgeois said.
However, due to graduate students not participating in new student orientation, university officials are unsure about the exact number enrolling in the fall until they begin registering for classes.
While the number of freshman and graduate student applicants increase, university officials have seen a decrease in the number of transfer student applicants.
According to the report, 3,443 transfer students have applied for Fall 2016, an 8.7 percent decrease. Of those applicants, 1,754 have been accepted, indicating an 18.5 percent decrease in the acceptance rate.
“Given those figures, that is one reason why we have provisionally increased our target for the freshman class from one-and-a-half to a little over two percent, in order to make up for the difference caused by having a smaller-than-expected transfer class,” Bourgeois said.
University officials have no concrete reason for the decrease in transfer students. Bourgeois said the reason could be fewer students generate enough hours in a community college to apply or chose not seek a four-year education due to economic reasons.
“It could be that more of those would-be transfer students are taking more community college-level classes while pursuing high school degrees, and therefore more of them are able to apply as first-time freshmen rather than transfers,” Bourgeois said.
Regardless of the reason for these figures, the numbers of transfer students could feasibly increase between now and next fall, Anderson said. The priority deadline for freshmen applicants was March 1, but the priority deadline is July 15 for transfer students.
“We’re talking about two separate groups at two different stages of the admissions process,” Anderson said. “There’s still lots of time for transfer students to apply, but the early indications do say our numbers will decease somewhat.”
Although next fall’s large freshman class will be beneficial to the university, some students have expressed concern at these projections.
“I’m just worried about parking,” said Travis Land, music studies junior. “There already isn’t enough parking as it is.”
Others expressed similar concerns regarding the most recent admissions report.
“The more students there are, the larger the lectures are,” said Reba Wigley, a psychology senior.
University officials plan to address these concerns to the best of their abilities and have already begun working on the issues an increased student body will foreseeably present, Bourgeois said.
“The Office of Academic Affairs works diligently on making sure that we have enough sections and seats in our general education and core curriculum classes for new and continuing students,” Bourgeois said.
For advanced courses intended for upperclassmen, officials review the number of seats available on a weekly basis and communicate with the deans to ensure enough seats are available in lectures, labs and courses that are critical at the undergraduate level, Bourgeois said.
Additionally, Office of Housing & Residential Life officials review incoming data on a weekly basis. As they see differences in the number of students, especially freshman, they adjust as they can.
The two new dorm buildings being built are intended to help alleviate the pressure, Bourgeois said.
“I’d like to think it’s the product of years of work and time to build the institution’s academic brand,” Anderson said, referring to the university’s consistent increase in its student population. “We have been diligent in long-term building of university brand awareness. That, coupled with our emerging research and the fact that we’re moving up in Carnegie classification, creates more interest in our campus.”