Trinity admissions expects another large first-year class starting in August. Trinity has recently seen smaller class sizes in the last five years including the current sophomore and junior classes, with hopes of increasing numbers in the coming years.
Chris Ellertson, the associate vice president for enrollment, plans to continue enrollment with larger incoming first-year classes as part of a long-term plan to regain the student population that previously existed at Trinity.
“Our enrollment goal this year is to enroll 640 first years and 25 transfers and we would like to maintain that number. If you look at a five-year plan, that’s really our target””not only this fall but the following four years,” Ellertson said.
The current standing first-year class is larger than the standing sophomore, junior and senior classes. The smaller class size has not been the traditional amount of enrolled students in the past at Trinity.
“Last year we enrolled 655 first years and roughly 25 transfers. We hope that this year will be similar. So far our projections are that it will be similar to last year’s class,” Ellerston said.
Trinity has begun to see an increase in applicants as the university has increased marketing and received more name recognition than in the past. Trinity admissions and leadership have additionally looked to regain the class sizes it had in the past.
“I think that having a few years past the beginning of this decade that had smaller classes, we would like to build back to where we once were,” Ellertson said.
In addition to an increase in applicants, admissions at Trinity as also begun to see a difference in the academic profiles of students receiving admission to the university.
“If you look at the average on the SAT and the ACT, all of those are up rather considerably for the students we have admitted. And today we are up in all categories for the students we have admitted,” Ellertson said.
The decision to increase or decrease class sizes is made by a group comprised of members of various departments at Trinity. Some of members include interim president Michael Fischer and Gary Logan who oversees fiscal affairs.
In addition to the admissions group, there is a subcommittee for the board of trustees.
“The enrollment group will include a number of people. Then we have a trustee subcommittee as well that’s really dedicated to enrollment issues,” Ellertson said. “The enrollment goals are established by the enrollment group and then vetted through the trustees and then it’s up to admissions to implement them and satisfy those goals.”
With a larger class anticipated to join Trinity next year it is expected that Residential Life will need to continue reassessing. The current standing sophomore class, which is smaller than previous years, has allowed for easier housing for ResLife.
“We are fortunate right now in that the sophomore class is a very small class. So they [admissions] intentionally increase the numbers the following year to balance us out and get us back to where we needed to be,” said Melissa Flowers, assistant director for residential education.
Flowers also noted the change regarding the use of staff in various halls on campus because of class size differences.
“The other main difference that it does for us is we shift our staff around,” Flowers said.
The first years in residence halls require more staff to assist with the transition from life at home to living away in college.
With larger class sizes coming in, residential life has shifted more residential members into the first-year dorms.
“First-year students need a lot more hand-holding: they need a lot more guiding, they need to understand the resources; they need some assistance,” Flowers said.
With new students expected to take up more living spaces on campus, the three-year living requirement has become a topic of discussion. Sean McCutchen, president of Student Government Association, has continued to push the reduction of the on-campus living requirement.
“I think what’s encouraging is that the North dorms filled out so quickly. I think that is a very good indicator of what people want,” McCutchen said.
Students can accept and decline admissions until May 1, at which point Trinity will begin to gain insight into the amount of first years planning to attend school in the fall.