Saint Mary’s welcome the largest class of first-year students in recent history
Meghan Lange | Friday, August 18, 2023
Saint Mary’s will welcome one of the largest classes of first-years in recent history with the class of 2027. This year the College will see an 8% increase from last year in the number of students in the first-year class, according to Sarah Gallagher Dvorak, dean of enrollment management and marketing.
“I could probably point to a few things that helped to positively impact enrollment this year, but three were likely more significant than others,” Dvorak said when asked what she thought caused the increase in enrollment.
“First, we expanded our partnerships with community-based organizations and ramped up recruitment in a number of markets across the country,” Dvorak said. “Second, Saint Mary’s is expanding our accelerated bachelor’s to master’s degree opportunities both at the College and in partnership with Notre Dame, some of which offer direct entry right out of high school. These are incredibly attractive to prospective students. Finally, we made some tweaks in our financial packages for students including additional funding opportunities and free books for incoming first years.”
The Observer asked Dvorak about her outlook for the class of 2027.
“We are incredibly excited about the Class of 2027 as it’s one of the biggest, most diverse and academically talented classes we’ve had in recent history,” she said.
The class of 2027 boasts a grade point average of 3.88 on average and 26% of students are from underrepresented backgrounds or are people of color, which is a 4% increase from last year’s first-year class.
“We saw big increases across the board this year and more students applying than ever before,” Dvorak said. “This speaks to the strong national reputation of Saint Mary’s and makes me feel even more confident in our continued success.”
Dvorak spoke about the importance the College places on diversity in its student body.
“Students of color make up 26% of the class of 2027 and 28% are first generation,” she said. “We recognize the importance of bringing together women from different nations, cultures and races in helping our students grow and become the best versions of themselves.”
Dvorak referenced the seven different countries that are represented in the class of 2027. Official international students come from the countries of Brazil, China, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nigeria and Ukraine. The first-year class also has students from 31 of the 50 states.
“We continue to expand the work we do through our Division for Inclusion and Equity, which was founded to ‘educate and empower the Saint Mary’s community through collaboration and resources to create a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for all constituents and to cultivate a culture of academic and institutional excellence,'” Dvorak said. “We have also expanded partnerships with a number of community-based organizations in markets, including but not limited to, Chicago and Houston. Through these relationships, we’re able to more adequately serve families and provide greater access to a Saint Mary’s education for their students.”
Saint Mary’s saw an increase in their first-year applications, according to Dvorak.
“The total number of applications between first-year and transfer (students) is 2,475, which is a 7% increase in total applications for the fall of 2023,” she said.
Of the 2,375 first-year applications, 160 applied as Early Decision, meaning if admitted the student must enroll.
Saint Mary’s saw an overall 2% increase in first-generation college students from the class of 2026. Additionally, 29% of the class of 2027 have a legacy connection, meaning at least one of their close family members attended the College.
The class of 2027 is also diverse in their personal interests. Within the class of 2027, there is a four-time world champion in equestrian riding, an international gold medal-winning Irish dancer and even a student who is working to publish her first book.
Additionally, 71% of the new class were athletes and 28% of those athletes were captains of their respective sports teams. About 57% of the class held positions of leadership in high school and 22% were officers in student government.
Dvorak spoke about her hopes for the incoming class and transfer students.
“As they transition into life at Saint Mary’s, I wish for all our new students to be open to new friendships, new experiences and new opportunities to expand their horizons and grow into successful, intelligent and compassionate young adults.”