Freshmen Feel Welcome, at Home

Josh Horton, Staff Writer

Misericordia welcomed its largest freshman class in school history and no single major program takes the credit: MU is simply a popular place.

The inaugural football programs accounted for only a fraction of the large number.

Glenn Bozinski, Director of Admissions, has information about why students chose MU. “The increase in this year’s incoming class really doesn’t have much to do with football,” he said. “The numbers I give you will back that up without a doubt.”

Misericordia enrolled 511 freshmen this year, which is about 60 more students than originally predicted for fall of 2012. Even with the addition of football, Bozinski had hoped for 440 students, not 500 plus.

“Our best guess was that we would bring in about 70 freshman football players and we brought in about 68 freshmen that were recruited football players, but only 58 of them are currently on the roster,” Bozinski said. “There are a bunch of guys that came and decided the effort was just too much, but they are still students here. So, even if you count the 68 that only brings us to right around our goal which was 440 freshmen.”

Two reasons for the growing student body are the popularity of  non-health science majors, and rather puculiar behavior from accepted students last spring.

Part of the university’s growth plan involves attracting more non-science major students. Bozinski said healthcare-related majors have limited capacities and fill every year.

“Of these extra 140 students that we have on campus none of them are PT’s.  They would be in the original class. The growth is in undeclared, government law and national security, sport management, communications and psychology. All five of those brought in the largest number of incoming freshman they ever have,” Bozinski said.

Programs such as government law and national security, and Physicians Assistant are still relatively new, and Bozinski projects they will attract more students as the programs become established.

The other reason for the large incoming class was some rather strange behavior from students who were accepted to the university. If a student is accepted in October, Bozinski hopes the student will provide his or her deposit by December. However, last year there were many students who waited until the May 1 deadline to send their deposits, extending the number of expected students for  fall to as high as 529 at one point, which worried  admissions staff.

“If you had asked me on April 1 how many freshmen we would be bringing in I would have said maybe 470, 480,” Bozinski said. “Two things happened in late April, fewer students withdrew in April and a whole heck of a lot of people said they were coming. Those last three weeks in April were really unexpected.”

The increase in applicants has caused the university to toughen admissions requirements. Freshman SAT scores averaged 20 percent higher–and they averaged four percent higher in class rankings than freshmen did the year prior. Rigorous admission requirements have made the decision process much tougher for admissions staffers.

“On the one-to-one decision, it’s tough. It’s hard to have those conversations with families. Turning kids away is always hard. You always try to find ways around it,” Bozinski said. “Sometimes this is the number one school for kids and they get very disappointed when they don’t get in.”

Bozinski  compared applications he has received thus far to those for fall of 2007 and noticed a significant change.

“Let’s say a student who has graduated from the university has a younger sibling with comparable academic records and wants to apply to the same school their brother or sister got into just five years ago,” Bozinski said. “Maybe now it isn’t quite good enough when five years ago it was.”

The number of applications continues to grow and Bozinski doesn’t expect it to slow down any time soon. He feels the spark in applications has nothing to do with athletics, or even academics. He thinks people just love the school.

“One thing I have definitely seen is regardless of athletics or academics is there are a lot of kids who just come here and fall completely in love with the place,” Bozinski said as he looked at a stack of applications just beside his desk. “These kids want nothing more than to spend their college years on this campus and that is where a lot of the growth is.”

This happened to first year speech language pathology major Katie McGinty. Although she admits she applied because her mother thought it would be a good fit, she said that after visiting, she fell in love with the place.

“I came up to visit my neighbor and I really, really loved the campus so I applied,” McGinty said. “I really got interested in speech and fell in love with the program, so when I found out I was accepted I couldn’t pass the opportunity up.”

Officials still hope to admit fewer than the 511 students who stepped on campus this fall. Although the large number made economic sense, it created too many problems.

“I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t take a little bit of flack,” Bozinski said. “Not in a negative way, but there are people on campus that 511 has caused problems for, especially the housing people, the registrars office and there is a ripple effect. It may not be a specific problem by major, but it could be in core courses.”

As a liberal arts school, core classes are a necessity for every student who makes his or her way through the arches, and the growing number of students threatened to increase class size.

“We really value our small class sizes,” Bozinski said. “We like how each student has the ability to interact more with the professor than if there were large lecture classes, so that is something that is pretty important to us.”

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