Aquinas Record Freshman Class

August 8, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — The residence halls will be nearly bursting as Aquinas College welcomes its largest freshman class ever.

The class of 400 incoming freshman is a 17.3 percent increase over last year’s class of 341. The number of students living on campus also has risen 8.3 percent.

“That’s pretty significant,” said Paula Meehan, dean of admissions. “We’re feeling very good about going into the fall and getting the students on campus. It’s been an awesome year.”

The school also received its highest number of applications, most through its newly designed and updated Web site, www.aquinas.edu

“Almost all of (the students) are applying online now through the Web site,” said Michael Keller, vice president of planning and enrollment management. “It’s a very savvy group of students out there. It’s very important that the Web site be current and up-to-date.”

Meehan said beyond just being the largest freshman class to attend Aquinas, the incoming students also are a promising group.

“I’m very pleased to say that not only are they strong in number and strong in academics, but this is a group of students that is very socially conscious,” she said.

The students have a history of being active in their schools and their communities, which Meehan said is important when considering the applications.

“That, to me, is very exciting,” she said. “We’ll retain those students and they’ll graduate.”

The increase in students comes after several years of steady growth, with a flat year in fall 2003.

Meehan said though she is pleased, she is not surprised at the large numbers.

“We have really expanded our reach to students in a variety of areas and have put more financial resources toward that,” she said.

The college also underwent a branding and imaging campaign over the past few years.

“This would have been the first full year that we could have seen the impact and it certainly has come through,” she said.

Fall will bring a new vitality to the college, Meehan said.

“I think it’s going to be a real energetic kickoff to our academic year,” she said.

In the next few years there will be more discussion about increasing housing and programs, with expectations for further growth in the next three years, Meehan said.

“We do project to continue to grow through the next four years,” she said. “I think there are a definite number of students that we feel we can grow to and be able to give students the type of academic experience that they deserve. We have a lot to offer here and interest is spreading and growing and that’s positive.”    

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