9/13/10 ASHLAND, OH -- While official numbers will not be available from the registrar's office until later this semester, it appears that Ashland University boasts one of the largest freshman classes in recent years and continues to bring in better academically qualified students.
"This is a very strong freshman class for us and we are very impressed with the quality of students and their involvement on the campus," said Colleen Murphy, vice president of marketing and enrollment management.
"The new freshman class of 630 students is the second largest group of freshman in the past 15 years," Murphy said. She added that the undergraduate class, including freshman, transfers and international students, is approximately 715 students, which is the third largest class in the past 15 years.
In addition to these freshman class numbers, the University has an additional 65 freshmen and approximately 190 upper class students taking classes as part of the new Dwight Schar College of Nursing located in Mansfield. "We are keeping nursing student numbers separate from the other undergraduate numbers so we are able to compare our enrollment with previous years," Murphy said.
"Also, we are very impressed with the quality of students we have been able to recruit this year," Murphy said. "Preliminary figures show freshman ACT scores and high school grade point averages (GPA) are continuing to show an upward trend."
According to Thomas Mansperger, director of the Office of Admission, this year's freshman class has a mean high school GPA of 3.36, while the mean ACT score for entering freshmen is 22.9.
"The 2010 national ACT average is 21, while the ACT average in Ohio is 21.8," Mansperger said. "Again this year we have attracted better qualified students and we believe this will help to improve the retention of first year students returning for their second year," he said.
This year's large freshman class did cause some concern on campus this summer as University officials needed to renovate residence hall lobbies to create temporary rooms for the students coming in this fall.
"We could see in July that we were going to have an issue with space," said Catherine Geletka, director of residence life. "We then went to different spaces on campus and began looking at lobbies to see if we could convert them to resident space."
Geletka said the result was that facilities management workers converted four lobbies in Kilhefner Hall into student housing areas. The changes to those locations included adding blinds on the windows, doors that locked and 16 sets of beds, desks, dressers and other items to make the students' temporary space equivalent to what all residents receive.
"Kilhefner is an area where there is a good community environment and the lobbies are huge, so it was a good solution that has worked very well," Geletka said.
Ashland bolstered its academic scholarship program last year, raising the top academic award to $52,000 over four years or $13,000 per year.
"This change in policy continues to be one variable that explains the improved academic background of the freshman class," Murphy said. "Additionally, the University expanded its need-based aid program last year, which has provided awards which more fully meet the demonstrated needs of students."
Ashland University (www.ashland.edu<http://www.ashland.edu>) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.