Fall 2008 enrollment climbs to historic proportions

Tech’s fall 2008 enrollment has hit record levels, topping out at 19,404 students for the first time in school history. The student body is comprised of 12,966 undergraduate students and 6,438 students taking part in graduate studies. Another 600 students who are enrolled in classes are not being counted toward the overall total because they are taking part in co-op or internship programs.

Over the last 10 years, Tech’s enrollment has risen by almost 30 percent, with 1998 enrollment totaling just under 14,000 students.

“We are given institutional directives as far as enrollment is concerned…. The growth [has] been very goal oriented. From [a freshman class of] 2000 to 2200 to 2400 to adding a summer class, [we have had] very trackable growth,” said Rick Clark, interim director of Undergraduate Admissions.

For next year, Clark said that the freshmen admission target will remain at 250 incoming freshmen for the summer semester and 2400 incoming freshmen for the fall semester.

Normally, Admissions expects that nearly 70 percent of high school seniors who receive an offer will come to Tech. However, when considering the current state of the economy, Clark said that number of students is likely to increase, because in-state students will weigh the benefit of in-state tuition more heavily.

In 2006, Admissions underestimated the number of students who accepted offers to attend Tech. This led to Housing tripling some dorm rooms. According to Clark, as a result of less predictable acceptance ratios, his office has become more conservative recently.

“The downside of [this] is that you have to put more kids on the wait list and you string them along a little bit longer…. You lose some kids [this] way too, because they will [take up offers from other universities],” Clark said.

With the increase in attendance to the university, the number of students deciding to live on campus has also seen a similar rise. For 2008, Housing had an occupancy rate of 99.57 percent, after making available 7,892 beds for those who would wish to live on campus.

“We’re almost [at capacity], which in our book is sad, because we’ve been [at] 101 to 103 percent [capacity] the last five years. We now have 8,450 beds on campus, which we didn’t have a couple of years ago…. Every student that wanted on-campus housing got on-campus housing,” said Mike Black, senior director of Housing.

Any increase in the amount of beds offered to students will come from the reopening of the Harrison and Howell residence halls, located on East Campus. The residence halls were closed for the fall semester because of upgrades being made to the heating and air conditioning systems.

The upgrades will allow each individual room to independently control its own temperature. Black said that the inability to control the exact temperature in their rooms has been the number one complaint that housing has received from students.

The number of graduate student who have elected to live on campus has also seen a rise in recent years. To compensate for this rise in demand, Housing has reserved two floors in the Cercine residence hall for graduates, adding these rooms to the ones already offered at the Graduate Living Center and Tenth & Home.

According to Black, Tech has capped the number of beds that it will maintain for the near future. This is because Housing has begun the process of formalizing a new 10-year master plan that will outline their goals moving forward.

Currently, Housing is in the ninth year of their last 10-year master plan. Members of the Student Government Association, faculty and staff have all had input on the direction of Housing’s future, and a report on the new master plan is expected to be delivered in November.