Before the 1,294 students enrolled in the Class of 2010 even set foot on campus, they already established themselves as the largest freshman class in nine years at the College. Their size is a side effect of the $150 million state budget cut in July.
President R. Barbara Gitenstein said in a campus-wide e-mail in June that the College would increase enrollment to bring more revenue into the school. The decision did not reduce the school’s selectivity, however.
According to Matt Middleton, assistant director of Admissions, the acceptance rate was 43 percent, two percentage points lower than last year.
It was possible to admit more students and still be more selective, Middleton said, because 900 more applications were received for this academic year.
To bulk up numbers without overcrowding the campus, the Office of Admissions made another record-breaking decision: “We tried to get more transfer students into the class than ever before,” Middleton said. “With freshmen, there’s a cap,” he said, noting the limitations of housing. For the Fall, 295 transfer students are enrolled, compared to 233 in 2004.
Middleton, a member of the class of 2000, remembers the last large class the College admitted in 1997. He was a sophomore at the time, giving tours as a student ambassador.
“It was a flukey statistical situation,” he said.
For the 1997 class, the College extended its usual excess of offers, knowing that not all students accepted would decide to enroll. For example, for Fall 2006, the College accepted 3,400 students. But in 1997 more students than expected, about 1,450 in Middleton’s estimates, sent in their deposits.
“It was a complicated year,” he said. “They had to turn Bliss (Hall) back into a dorm (to accommodate the extra students).”
Large classes were common in the 1970s and 80s, when the College was more of a commuters’ school and not as selective.
That has since changed, with the College’s recent ranking as the Top Public Institution in the U.S. Northern Region, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Executive president of the Student Government Association and junior criminology and justice studies major, Christine Cullen, encourages freshmen to find strength in their numbers.
“The freshmen who join (the College’s student government next year have a much larger constituency whose interests must be represented,” Cullen said. “I encourage as many incoming freshmen as possible to get involved so that the Class of 2010’s voice can be heard.”