by Geoff Larcom, Published August 29, 2013
YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University will enroll the largest class of freshmen in its 164-year history when classes begin Wednesday, September 4.
While final enrollment figures will not be reported until mid-September and additional new students continue to enroll, the University has already enrolled more freshmen students than the previous all-time record for freshmen of 2,854, set in 1999.
This year's class also tops last year's freshman enrollment of 2,595, which was Eastern's largest class in a decade.
The 2013 freshman class marks the second consecutive year of record enrollment at Eastern. Last fall, Eastern had the largest incoming class of new undergraduates in its history, with 5,076 students. That total, which includes first-time freshmen, transfer students, students pursuing a second degree, and other types of new undergraduate students, represented an increase of 6 percent from the previous Eastern record of 4,751 in 2001.
"Eastern welcomes our new and returning students to our beautiful, historic campus," said Eastern President Susan Martin. "Our investment in key academic and student facilities, excellent faculty, and increased financial aid while setting the pace for tuition restraint in Michigan is paying off. Students love the access to faculty, small classes and opportunities for community engagement. Come join us!"
Francine Parker, chair of the EMU Board of Regents, said the record freshman class and all students at Eastern can expect a continuing emphasis on the academic experience at EMU. A record number of 2,376 students graduated last spring, an increase of more than 27 percent from six years ago, in 2007.
"More students are coming to Eastern, and more are graduating as well," Parker said. "Today's students face many challenges, and we are committed to helping them succeed by supporting their academic success at Eastern."
Higher GPAs and ACT scores
In addition to record numbers, this year's incoming freshman class is better prepared academically. The average GPA of incoming freshmen is 3.24, up from 3.18 in 2012, and 3.11 in 2011. Average ACT scores are also climbing. This year's freshman class has an average ACT score of 22, up from 21.4 last year and 21.1 in 2011.
Honors College growth
The University's Honors College program, which accepts students entering with at least a 25 ACT score and 3.5 high school GPA, has nearly doubled in freshman enrollment since 2011. This year, the University expects to admit its largest honors freshman class ever, and anticipates about 1,200 students in the overall honors program.
Rebecca Sipe, director of the EMU Honors College, said the increases in overall enrollment and in Honors College participation reflect dual and complementary priorities at Eastern.
"It says the University is placing tremendous emphasis on both opportunity and excellence, and that the broader public is seeing that," Sipe said.
The Honors College features rigorous curriculum, classes taught by professors and capped at 20 students, and numerous research opportunities with faculty.
Sipe noted that students see the college as a stimulating, close-knit community.
"It has the closeness of a small college while having all the benefits of a larger university," Sipe said.
More students living on campus
The increased enrollment has meant more students living on campus. Eastern Michigan this fall expects to house over 4,000 on-campus students, up from 3,240 in 2010 and representing the most students living on-campus since 2003. Freshman move-in day is Saturday, August 31, which ends with the season-opening home football game against Howard University at 6 p.m.
Among the new students on campus will be Stephanie Bardoni, of Brownstown, Mich., who plans to major in accounting and financial management and work for the student paper, The Eastern Echo.
Bardoni says she fell in love with Eastern during a campus tour last fall, when she noticed the blend of new academic facilities, a classic campus feel and the enthusiasm students had for their school. "They (students and EMU staff) make you want to love EMU as much as they do," Bardoni says.
Bardoni says her goal at EMU is not only to learn and make friends, but also to help others. She plans to work for non-profit organizations to help fund programs for children and low-income families.
"I think it's extremely important to make a difference in my community, and EMU makes it really easy to get involved with various service projects around the area," Bardoni says.
Reasons cited for the increased enrollment include: