Freshman class enrollment lower than average


Story by Whitney Silkey, Assistant News Editor

The number of students walking around campus this year may seem a little smaller due to the size of the freshman class. This year’s freshman class dropped to 184 students from last year’s 224 students and the previous year’s 234.

Representatives in the admissions office say they have known for a while that this year’s class would be smaller than in the past. On one hand, data from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) projected that 2015 would be the smallest class of graduating high school seniors for 10 years prior and 10 years into the future. Additionally, Baker made some policy changes.

“We knew there were going to be some challenges this year,” Kevin Kropf, senior director of admissions, said. “We did some things differently in terms of athletic recruitment and did some things differently in terms of financial aid awarding that we knew could have some impact on the size of the class, and in the end they did.”

Some athletic teams did not have as many spots to fill as they did before. Also, the university did not award as much financial aid as in the past.

The impact of a smaller class may mean the lines are a little shorter in the cafeteria, and there may be a few more empty parking spaces, but to Kropf those are not necessarily things to be happy about.

“I like having the problem of not being able to find a parking spot in the morning,” Kropf said. “To me that’s a reminder that we’re being successful here.”

The small class puts extra pressure on the admissions staff to get a bigger class next year. The 184 students is not at an all-time low, but with the help of added programming and five new staff members, Kropf is energetic about enrollment for the next academic year.

“We didn’t necessarily want a smaller class, but we are very excited about the students that we have,” Kropf said.

Administrators hope that all departments and faculty on campus will become involved in the admissions process.

“We often depend as a university just on one office to do all that work and that’s not realistic, nor is it fair,” Dean of Students Cassy Bailey said.

One of Bailey’s goals for this year is to make sure current students have a positive college experience to help promote the university. She also plans to partner the office of student affairs with the admissions office to help with visit days and other recruitment activities.

Although orientation days over the summer were slimmed down, and the last two sessions had fewer students who enrolled, Randy Flowers, the director of student life, does not see the small class having a negative impact on campus activities this year.

“I just hold the bar even higher for SAC,” Flowers said.

Bailey emphasized quality over quantity with the 2015 freshman class.

“This year’s class is small but mighty,” Bailey said.

Kropf agreed.

“I see a lot of superstars in that class,” Kropf said. “I am very excited about the potential of this class.”

Fortunately for the admissions office, enrollment starts fresh and back at zero every year. Kropf is already looking at applications that have come in for next year.

“We’re already 60 applications ahead of last year at this point,” Kropf said. “Next year we’re going to bounce back enrollment-wise.”