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ISSUE 119 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/12/2006

Enrollment unexpected

By Emelie Heltsley
News Editor

Friday, May 12, 2006

While current students prepare to move out of campus for the summer months, a larger-than-normal first-year class will be getting ready to move in. As of Thursday, 835 first-year students are readying themselves for life at St. Olaf, a situation that is unexpected but still manageable, according to Dean of Students Greg Kneser and Director of Residence Life Pamela McDowell.

"In one respect, this is enlightening news," Kneser said. "We had an increase in people accepting our offer."

Currently, the class of 2007 numbers approximately 680 students, the class of 2008 numbers approximately 730 and the class of 2009 numbers approximately 745.

Both McDowell and Kneser explained why the incoming class of 2010 numbers almost 100 students more than the class of 2009. Nationwide admissions trends showed that more high school seniors were applying to many more colleges, and would not be attending many colleges which accepted them. Following the trend, institutions across the nation accepted more first-year students and anticipated that many of them would not accept the offer. Going against the trend, however, more first-years than anticipated decided to come to St. Olaf.

"The yield went down everywhere else," Kneser said.

McDowell agreed. "The trend at other institutions was not what we experienced here," she said.

Kneser expressed general concern about housing, first-year classes and student work positions. He also mentioned possible problems when these first-years move through their four years at St. Olaf, eventually needing to take upper level courses and attend the Counseling Center or health services.

"We have three months to figure it out," he said. "We'll find a way to provide these students with a St. Olaf education."

McDowell also stressed that while the situation is unexpected, it is manageable. To help alleviate the first-year housing crunch, she plans to make all rooms in Kittelsby triple rooms.

"The triples haven't been bad this year," she said, mentioning that next year's Junior Counselor (JC) staff will need to work with their residents to create strong roommate relationships from the start.

"Students living in Kittelsby will not have a worse experience than those living in Kildahl or any other residence hall," McDowell said.

The incoming Class of 2010 is also more balanced between men and women than previous classes, as 45 percent of the class is male.

Both McDowell and Kneser emphasized that the issue can be dealt with, and that they are prepared to make the best decisions for the incoming class.

"Everyone will have a job to do," said Kneser.

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