Freshman class expected to exceed university limits
The university is preparing for another record-breaking freshman class size in the fall, despite decreasing the percentage of students admitted.
Chris Lucier, the vice president of enrollment management, said the university is currently expecting around 4,075 freshmen to enroll in the fall, though numbers will not be official until after the drop-add period.
“Right now it’s 4,160, so we’ll see that four percent of those students will melt,” he said.
“Melt” is a term the admissions office uses for students who send in their deposit but ultimately do not attend the university. This “pre-melt” number is close to the 4,200 freshmen that entered the university this past fall—a university record.
The university usually aims for a class size of 3,800. After last year’s large incoming freshman class, the university admitted 800 fewer students for this fall, Lucier said. Lucier’s position, which is new at the university, aims to understand and predict why students enroll.
By admitting 800 fewer students and students possessing stronger academic profiles, usually the number of students that commit to the university’s offer go down, he said. Instead, for the university, it went up a full percentage point and the average SAT score increased by 14 points.
“Those things are not occurring nationally, certainly not in the northeast United States,” he said.
The quality of the university experience is one of the reasons more students enroll, Lucier said. He said the best recruiters are current students who are sharing their experience with friends, neighbors and teachers.
“The buzz about UD is getting out and that’s what I think has been the biggest driver,” he said.
The second greatest factor for increased enrollment since the recession is the student success rate, according to Lucier, as 97 percent of students are in graduate schools or jobs.
With another large freshman class comes the need for more residential space for students once again. This past year there were 378 forced triples, some even in small rooms in Rodney Residence Hall.
Jim Tweedy, the senior associate director of Residence Life and Student Housing, said this year university officials have physically gone into multiple rooms to identify the best spots for triple rooms.
“We obviously ended up putting a lot of triples in Rodney this year, a lot of triples in Russell, and those ended up being some pretty small rooms,” he said.
The admissions office is also making an effort to be more candid with parents and students about the possibility of a forced triple room.
There will be more rooms available to the incoming freshman class, however. The Ray Street Complex, formerly an upper-division residence complex, will be converted to a first-year residence hall. There is the opening of the new residence hall on Academy Street, now named Caesar Rodney, and the re-opening of the Harrington Residence Hall, with a “dramatically re-done commons,” according to Tweedy.
“We wanted to make sure we had two pretty vibrant freshman communities,” he said.
Tweedy is refining the “conflict resolution” process with the forced triples as well. The Residence Life and Student Housing department is planning to meet with all residents of triple rooms much earlier and engage in the process prior to any conflicts existing, he said.
As this trend in high freshman enrollment continues, Lucier said his office plans to work to understand what is driving this behavior.
“Then we can modulate the size of the first year class in a way that provides a quality first year experience,” he said.