Freshman class is largest in school history

<p>The freshman class gathered at the beginning of the semester for the annual fall welcome. (Josh Kelven/TommieMedia)</p>
The freshman class gathered at the beginning of the semester for the annual fall welcome. (Josh Kelven/TommieMedia)

As of the 10th day of classes, 1,352 freshmen are now enrolled at St. Thomas. The class of 2013 is the largest class the university has ever seen.

“We took a close look at what we had available in terms of space and what size of class we can enroll and still keep the quality of the experience as high as we can,” said Marla Friederichs, associate vice president for admissions and financial aid.

The class size exceeded the expectations of the Office of Admissions, which had aimed for a class size of around 1,325. Last year’s freshman class was made up of 1,322 students.

“We came up with the number 1,325 based on the fact that we just graduated our first large class of over 1,300 students,” Friederichs said. “So we had some space. We were fortunate enough to have even more students accept than what we predicted.”

The freshman class 10th-day statistics, which came out Tuesday, show the new class is unique in other ways as well.

The balance between female and male students is tipped heavily in favor of males. Male students make up more than 56 percent of the class while female students make up only 43 percent.

“It’s been really difficult across the country to keep men in college,” Friederichs said. “So we actually have gone against the national trend in having more men in this class than women.”

The Office of Admissions has stepped up its recruitment of male students by sending additional postcards or making extra phone calls, according to Friederichs. She also said that although being a male prospective student would not automatically equal a more generous financial aid package, gender is one of about 200 factors that the admissions staff takes into account.

“When we award financial aid, we look at a combination of factors,” Friederichs said. “Do we need more students from far away or more close to home? Do we need higher academic achievers, do we need more alum kids, do we need more business majors? All of these things add in when shaping the class for the future.”

More out-of-state students, students of color

This freshman class also has a higher percentage of students of color than past classes. In last year’s freshman class, 12 percent of the students were students of color. This year, the percentage is more than 14 percent.

There are also more out-of-state students and the class comes from a wider range of high schools. Last year’s freshman class came from 378 different high schools and 27 states. This year, the freshman class is from 411 different high schools, 31 states and nine other countries.

“We continue to try and cast the net as widely as we possibly can to expose our students to all different kinds of experiences and all different kinds of people,” Friederichs said.

The number of transfer students is down from 288 last year to 285 this year. The number of international students has decreased as well. Last year, there were 16 freshmen and eight transfer students from other countries. This year there are 15 freshmen international students, but only two transfer international students.

Although average class rank, average GPA and the number of high school valedictorians for this new class are slightly lower than last year’s class, this year’s freshman class boasts a higher average ACT score. Last year’s average ACT score was 25.12 while this year’s average score is 25.44.

“We’re really pleased with this class,” Friederichs said, “how involved they’ve been in the first couple of weeks, going to activities and everything. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the makeup of the class in general.”

Katie Broadwell can be reached at