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Class of 2007 arrives on campus

Sheila Flynn | Thursday, August 21, 2003

The two largest classes in Notre Dame’s history will coexist at the University this academic year, and a continued trend in increasing class size could have significant implications for the University’s future, the administration said.

“We expect our second largest class, close to 2,000 students,” said Angie Chamblee, associate dean of First Year of Studies. The biggest recorded freshman group, she said, arrived two years ago with 2,038 students.

Assistant director of admissions James Riley said the Class of 2007 applicant pool of 12,100 exceeded last year’s by nearly 2,000 – an increase that could be the result of stepped-up recruiting efforts. The higher number of applicants allowed the University to be more selective in the admittance process, Riley said.

“I think with the caliber of students we admitted this year, the word is out that Notre Dame is a unique and challenging environment,” Riley said.

The average accepted student in the Class of 2007 had a grade point average of 3.8 and average SAT score in the upper 1300s. The freshman class includes several valedictorians and one student who earned perfect scores on both the SAT and ACT exams, Riley said.

But the larger size of the entering class is not related to the increase in applications. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions accepted the same number of students as last year but experienced a confirmation rate of 59 percent – the highest in the past few years, Riley said. More students are choosing to attend Notre Dame than ever before, and therefore the classes are larger than expected.

“These, right now, look like aberrations,” Chamblee said of the exceptionally large freshman and junior classes.

“Down the road, the University will have to look at housing and decide if the present configuration will accommodate this if we have four years in a row,” Chamblee said.

But even with just two larger classes, the housing situation has been tight. Dormitories have had to convert study lounges into rooms and force triples, and more transfer students have been denied on-campus housing, said Scott Kachmarik, associate director of Residence Life and Housing.

“The raw number of people living off campus is higher than it has been, say, four years ago,” Kachmarik said. “But if they weren’t living off campus, I don’t know where else there is. Maintaining the community in terms of numbers is one thing, but maintaining the community in terms of quality is another.”

Kachmarik said occupancy has been near or at 100 percent in recent years and the University is looking into a strategic plan that includes the construction of additional dorms within the next few years.

But housing and residential issues are not the only aspects of the University affected by rising enrollment numbers.

If enrollment continues to grow, student-professor ratios and class sizes will subsequently change.

“In terms of classes, we’ve been very fortunate in that we have been able to place all students in classes and, in most cases, their first or second request,” Chamblee said. “What implications it will have in the future, the colleges will have to answer.”

Regardless, though, she said new rules and procedures cannot be based on the current large freshman and junior classes; she said the trend should be studied for five or 10 more years.

Andrew Thagard contributed to this story.