Next freshman class to increase by 50 students

February 27, 2014 6:18 AMComments Off

Story by Sarah Fulton

Photo by Luke Nankivell

cole_luke-w2000-h2000The admissions office is seeking to have a first-year class of 900 next year.

This represents a 50-student increase from the current first-year and sophomore classes.

Still, it is not uncharted territory, as past classes have been as large as 930.

“There was a time when Drake was just growing, and we decided to manage that enrollment,” said Thomas Delahunt, vice president of admission and student financial planning. “We had to be more strategic about are enrollment. Now it is time. “

The goal for 900 comes from a capacity study that admissions conducted around 10 years ago.

The study sought to find out how many students Drake could hold without creating a major change in student life.

“We wondered, can we feed them? Can we house them? A lot of our competitors had larger classes. Creighton is closer to 1,000,” Delahunt said. “We decided that we could have a capacity of 920 or 925. However, we needed to grow it slowly.”

Delahunt said ideally the growth would come from enrolling more accepted students.

Last year, 3,900 were admitted and 21 percent of them accepted.

“We think with that application pool there is enough admitted students to reach the goal,” Delahunt said. “So if we could do a better job of yielding the students we admit.”

Doing a better job includes working with faculty to show the best and most innovative parts of Drake.

However, sophomore Taylor Harville, a physics, chemistry and math triple major, said the increase might affect the best parts of coming to Drake.

“I think that it is a good stride to becoming a larger university, but I can see issues with enlarged class sizes,” Harville said. “One of the best draws to Drake is the quality education with small class sizes, and such constant increase in enrollment might jeopardize that.”

That was the idea of the capacity study, Delahunt said, to find the number of students Drake could have without “affecting them in any way.”

He said spreading 50 students over the whole curriculum would not create a noticeable change.

Scholarships should be similarly affected.

“The average scholarship will remain the same or go up a bit. If 50 more students enroll, that is 50 more people paying tuition,” Delahunt said.

Housing is not as simple of an issue.

Dean of Students Sentwali Bakari noted that Morehouse Residence Hall was an upperclassmen hall until it was necessary to put first-years in it.

Now the hall is primarily first-years.

However, he said this new increase would be manageable.

“I am not overly worried about it, but we will be conscious about it. I do not anticipate it being a problem,” Bakari said. “If it is, I don’t see it as something we cannot adjust and manage.”

The increase should have a positive effect, said Bakari, because it will bring increased diversity.

“More students will diversify the institution. It is my assumption that you will have a diverse range of personalities, areas, gender and demographics,” Bakari said.

Freshman advertising major Donny Hughes agrees that the increase is manageable.

“This size is very similar to my class, so I would think it would end up just as good,” Hughes said, “It’s big enough to have a varying student body without having too many students that would throw out the balance of classes.”

Even though he sees the increase as a positive thing, Bakari said too much growth is not.

“I know my colleagues are managing this very strategically. We like our size. We don’t want to get too big,” Bakari said. “There is room for a little more growth but not too much.”

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