Augustana saw its largest freshman class this year since the 1970s, welcoming 481 students in the fall of 2017. However, the class of 2022 is on track to surpass that number, given the estimated 10 percent increase in applications and 15 percent increase in number of students offered admission compared to this time last year, according to Nancy Davidson, vice president for enrollment.
Joni Krueger, Augustana’s registrar, credited the Admission and Marketing team’s efforts of “reaching out to the local, regional, national and international market” as the reason behind application surges.
The mounting number of applications presents some challenges for the administration in matters of housing and dining.
“We have some concerns about sitting spaces in the dining room, and we acknowledge that the lines have been longer,” Dean of Students Jim Bies said. “But Dining Services is seeking ways to make adjustments to solve these issues.”
Bies also explained that the decision to make all Tuve rooms doubles is a response to the projected rise of freshmen living on campus.
“The increased enrollment is going to add stressors, but to go so far as to say we don’t have enough classrooms or residence space for next fall would not be an accurate assumption, given where our enrollment is at,” Bies said. “As we look at Tuve Hall, we know that we will continue to need a floor for the freshmen.”
First Year Seminar sections will be added as the new classes get larger. There were 24 sections in fall 2016, and 27 sections in fall 2017. According to Dr. Stephen Minister, philosophy professor and FYS director, the potential increase in freshmen will lead to new sections, but understaffing is not a matter of worry.
“In general, bringing in more students is great,” Minister said. “I believe we offer quality education and I’m glad students are recognizing that. Having more students does lead to more class-size stress across campus, and FYS is what feels that [stress] first because all the freshmen take it. But I’m not concerned about having adequate staffing for next year.”
The registrar is working with the university’s academic departments to guarantee that enough classes are offered next year.
“As with the increase in the size of the first-year student class last year, we will closely monitor the incoming deposits and work with the department chairs and the senior vice president for academic affairs to ensure we are offering sufficient courses for all of our students,” Krueger said. “We have some areas where we have room for more, and others where it might take some necessary additional faculty in order to offer the needed courses.”
As the university grows, so do programs like the Distinguished Scholars Celebration. The number of participants rose 14 percent from last year’s total with the chance of it increasing with future celebrations.
“The current number of students who have already participated or are registered to participate in a Distinguished Scholars Celebration in the next two weekends is 270,” Davidson said. “This will change. We will have a final number in a few weeks. The total number of 2017 participants was 236.”
Although deposits have already surpassed figures compared to this time last year, the number of freshmen coming in the fall is still uncertain.
“At the moment, first-year student deposits are 9.5 percent ahead of last year,” Davidson said. “The National Candidates Reply Date isn’t until May 1, so we still have a long way to go.”