College adjusts to smaller freshmen class

By Jen Wozniak
August 27, 2009

Shannon Keough

370 students officially embarked on their Cabrini College career and became freshmen this week, 20 students more than the expected number yet more than 100 students less than recent Cabrini freshman classes.

“Although the class of 2013 will not be as large as some of the other classes Cabrini has experienced in recent history, it exceeds the budgeted number of 350 students,” Doug Swartz, vice president of enrollment management, said.

When planning for the upcoming school year, the budget was built around 350 students “because the applicant pool was smaller and because of transitions in admissions,” Swartz said. “We wanted a realistic budget.”

Cabrini College may have received fewer applicants because of the rough economy. “One of the biggest reasons [for the small class size] is the state of the economy right now. Dr. Jefferey Gingerich, interim dean for academic affairs, said “Families are not able to afford private schools as much as in the past, so it makes sense to see a smaller class size.”

Besides receiving fewer applicants, Cabrini was also tougher in their decision of who to accept.

A large part of this was trying to find students who are the best fit for Cabrini. Cabrini hopes to have students who are better prepared for Cabrini and know what to expect.

Sparked by the desire to help improve Cabrini’s retention rate, or the number of students who transfer, Cabrini is implementing various ways to help students stay involved and enjoy their college experience once at the school.

“The key for Cabrini is retention,” Swartz said. “We want to try and get a student who is a better fit for Cabrini and have more activities that help them stay involved on an ongoing basis. Recruiting to a good fit is the first piece of that and then working in a pro-active way to make sure students are involved academically and socially first semester is really important.”

Gingerich said that Cabrini is looking at a number of strategies to help the retention rate, one of which is increasing the number of Living and Learning Communities. In the LLCs, students will live together in the residence halls, take courses together and have a budget for more activities, including off-campus activities and weekend trips. Altogether Cabrini will have six LLCs this year, a few more than last year.

“These [LLCs] were a success last year and we found that students were more likely to stay,” Gingerich said.

A smaller class size can present new opportunities for students, including smaller classes, more individualized attention from professors and less crowding in the dormitories. “Students will be more likely to have full-time professors rather than adjuncts, so that is an advantage to students as well,” Gingerich said.

George Stroud, dean of students, said that rooms in Woodcrest residence hall were de-tripled and the majority of rooms in Xavier residence hall, with the exception of the larger rooms, were de-tripled. There will now be two students per room in those freshmen residence halls, instead of three like in previous years.

“De-tripling helps the overall student experience. I hope that if students have a better living experience, then it will help their attitude towards the entire institution as a whole,” Stroud said.

Also, this is Cabrini’s first year of the core Justice Matters program. Gingerich said that it will be easier for Cabrini to concentrate on fewer students in making sure that the new curriculum goes well.

A consequence of a smaller class size is that some classes had to be cancelled. However, the classes that are cancelled are sections of courses, “so the course will still run itself but there will be less sections of it,” Gingerich said. “This happens every year.”

In addition, while the budget for the Class of 2013 is smaller than in previous years, at the same time there will be less expenses, so the freshmen will not be losing out in any way and will have the same opportunities as other classes.

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Jen Wozniak

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