Record-size class coming to campus
When one of Vanderbilts largest freshman classes ever arrives on campus
in a little more than a month, the University will be ready for it.
While its still too early to say for certain how large the Class of
2003 will be, the housing office as well as academic offices are busy
gearing up for a class that may well exceed last years freshman class
by more than 100.
Last week Dean of Undergraduate Admissions William Shain said 1,675
students had accepted the Universitys offer of admission, although
that number is likely to decrease somewhat before classes start Aug.
24. Last years freshman class numbered 1,495. The largest freshman
enrollment to date is 1,597 in fall 1991.
University officials are closely monitoring registration activity
to determine what adjustments they must make to accommodate the students.
We have been working diligently for the past month adding freshman
seminars. Were looking carefully at registration numbers to determine
whether we need to hire extra instructors, said George Graham,
associate dean of the College of Arts and Science, Vanderbilts
largest school. The college is expecting about 100 more freshmen than
Although the College of Arts and Science has enrolled more students
than it had planned for, Peabody and Engineering are pretty much
where they wanted to be, Shain said. Both schools wanted to increase
their enrollment. Blairs projected freshman enrollment stands
at 57, compared to last years freshman class of 42.
Also watching the numbers closely are housing officials. Mark Bandas,
associate dean of residential and judicial affairs, said there is enough
flexibility in the Universitys housing units to accommodate comfortably
a larger than normal freshman class.
A number of the study rooms in Branscomb Quadrangle as well as Carmichael
Towers can easily be converted to student rooms, with the same furniture
and accommodations found in other freshman rooms. That includes one
computer line for each student and cable television. In most cases,
students will share their room with one other student. In a few cases,
four students may share a room, but that will be the case only in larger
study rooms, Bandas said. Those students will receive a 37 percent discount
of the regular $2,463 per semester housing fee.
In addition, a floor of Lewis House, which originally was intended
for upperclassmen, will be used for additional freshman spillover. These
are one- and two-bedroom apartments.
Everyone will be housed in accommodations roughly comparable
to the regular student room, Bandas said. Students who want to
leave their rooms to study will still have plenty of options, Bandas
said, because most of the residence halls have a number of common areas,
such as lounges and dining areas, where students can study. In addition,
the plan is to alternate the floors on which study halls will be converted,
leaving the others available as study areas.
The reasons for the increased freshman numbers are unclear, but Shain
noted that the percentage of students accepting Vanderbilts offers
of admissions increased from 28.7 percent last year to 32.5 percent.
That amounts to an unlikely 14 percent increase in yield. But
thats what happened. Thats the biggest reason were
over, he said.
Other selective top-tier universities have also reported enrollment
increases. Overall, a record 14.8 million students are expected to attend
four-year institutions of higher education this year, compared to 14.6
million in fall 1998. Shain said it is too early to determine what role
the national trend has played in Vanderbilts numbers. He is awaiting
an analysis of information on the students who accepted the admissions
offers to determine what were the factors in their decisions to come
Robert Zemsky, director of the Institute for Research on Higher Education
at the University of Pennsylvania, said some of the increase in college
students nationally can be attributed to adult learners, but the phenomenon
affecting admissions numbers at schools such as Vanderbilt that cater
to the more traditional student is the increased number of students
and families that are seeking a brand name education.
That is a direct function of two factors. First, the dominating
economy. And second, the sense on the part of parentsand really
a sense of panicthat they want to give their kids a leg up in
the workplace. And they feel they can do that with a brand name education.
For some time now, parents and students have recognized that a college
education is fundamental to success, Zemsky said. Now there is
a realization that what matters is the name on the diploma, not just