If the Quad seems a bit more crowded than it was last year, that is because this year’s incoming class of freshmen is the largest Illinois State University has seen in over 20 years.
Last week, an estimated 3,500 to 3,600 new freshmen crowded the campus. Compared to last year’s freshman class of just under 3,000, this class represents a 15 percent increase in enrollment.
“Even weeks before the cutoff date, we knew we were coming in with a big class,” Jeff Mavros, director of Admissions, said. “In these times, with fewer domestic students, added financial pressures, and so much competition in the Midwest, there are a lot of schools that would want to be in our position.”
Administrators are never sure just how many of the students accepted will follow through and attend the university, so numbers won’t be official until classes begin.
Mavros emphasizes that to ISU, quality is always more important than quantity: “It’s rare for a school to bring in a class so diverse that’s also this academically strong.”
What brought in such a large crop of highly qualified candidates this year? Mavros says it all comes down to institutional pride and buzz surrounding the university.
“We’ve seen a real growth in Redbird pride this past decade, both from students and alumni. ISU has never been more popular.”
This popularity left some parts of the university scrambling over the past few months, as Campus Dining Services struggled to find a balance in order to continue offering meal plans to off-campus students without overcrowding dining centers.
Overcrowding was also a major concern in residence halls, leading to the conversion of some lounge areas into living spaces.
Rachel Kobus, marketing and assessment coordinator for Housing Services, stated that the large class will not affect the quality of living for any on-campus residents.
“Housing has been able to accommodate the large class this year without affecting their housing experience. We guarantee a space for anyone two years or less out of high school,” Kobus said.
Housing will also continue to check in with students to make sure their living space is up to par through their outreach program, House Calls, beginning September 8.
With the major concerns out of the way, ISU is enthusiastically welcoming the new class to campus, focusing all attention on giving every student the best experience possible.
“Since I started working in admissions here at ISU, I’ve noticed a great sense of collaboration among the staff,” Mavros said. “What we have here at ISU is a very student-centered staff, and that’s not something you’ll find at every university.”