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ISSUE 117 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/14/2004

Projected first year class increases in Minnesotans

By Jean Mullins
News Editor

Friday, May 14, 2004

As the May 1 deadline for college admissions approached, high school seniors made a life changing decision: where they would attend college. This year, St. Olaf admitted more students than ever, and so far, many accepted students have decided to attend St. Olaf. Admissions predicts that the class of 2008 will be between 770 and 780 students. The class of 2008, demographically, is similar to other years, with some exceptions. About 40 states are represented in the class with the majority being from the Midwest, particularly Minnesota. This year has seen a jump in the number of students coming to St. Olaf from Minnesota. Director of Admissions Jeff McLaughlin explained the statewide tendency for students to stay close to home: "The trend snapped back to more from Minnesota after 9-11." McLaughlin also cited the high per capita income of residents of Minnesota, meaning more can afford to attend more expensive colleges. Other students from the Midwest come from Wisconsin and Iowa. Admissions has also seen a slow growth in the number of students coming from Colorado and the West Coast. The college typically attracts a fair number of students from Washington state, but this is a record year for Oregon, with 23 students committed to attending St. Olaf. "The cultural values of the Northwest are similar to those of Minnesota," McLaughlin said. Other states that typically turn out a number of incoming first years are Illinois, Colorado and Texas. In general, the college does not see many incoming students from the Deep South or New England. There is also a downward trend of students coming from North and South Dakota, which McLaughlin attributes to fewer people living in those states. St. Olaf also has a mission to admit qualified students who are the first in their family to attend college along with multicultural students. This year is no exception, with about 12.5 percent first-generation college students and approximately 11 percent multicultural students. However, McLaughlin notes, there are fewer and fewer first-generation college students applying because more and more of their parents went to college 20 or 30 years ago. As a general trend, admissions is seeing more high school students applying every year. "The average student now applies to more colleges than they did 10 years ago," McLaughlin said. High school seniors today have more choices, and may choose to go to another college. Admissions, as a result, must accept more students to get a good class size. "It is important for what the school wants to be  we need more students to apply to get the best and the brightest," McLaughlin said. The college is excited to see more highly qualified students applying every year. One problem a large incoming class poses is housing. However, Director of Residence Life Pamela McDowell is not worried yet. "We will wait a little longer [to house them] to make sure everyones in or out," McDowell said. Residence Life, when faced with a high influx of students, often opens triple rooms to students in Kittelsby Residence Hall. But for now, McDowell is waiting to see how everything settles out. "There are so many coulds," said McDowell. "There could be 40 percent male; it could be 70 percent female&" In the event that the class of 2008 turns out to be huge, the college will turn spaces not currently used as such, like lounges, into housing. McDowell points out that other colleges in the past have solved the problem of limited housing making use of alternative living spaces. Some examples include putting students up in hotels, or renting off-campus houses for them. For now, she assures the approximately 80 upperclass students, who are currently not housed to remain calm, because there is no housing crisis yet. Both McLaughlin and McDowell feel that St. Olaf is ready to welcome the class of 2008 next fall.

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