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Freshman class is SFSU's largest ever

August 30, 2004

Freshman Kaitlin Hovanec surveys her belongings that still need to be moved into her room at Mary Park HallAs classes begin at SFSU, more young and fresh faces are on campus than ever before. A preliminary enrollment of 2,910 first-time freshmen -- nearly 15 percent more than last fall and 48 percent more than fall 1994 -- marks an all-time high for the University.

Rachel Sachs, a freshman from the small Central Coast town of Los Osos, said she looks forward to immersing herself in the big-city lifestyle of San Francisco.

"The city will keep me busy. I'll never be bored," the prospective interior design major said as she set up her room in Mary Park Hall.

SFSU's freshman class has grown significantly despite earlier deadlines for admission. The University received 27,568 undergraduate applications for this fall -- a nearly 5 percent increase over applications received for fall 2003 -- despite a shorter application period and admissions restrictions for transfer students. Jo Volkert, associate vice president for enrollment planning and management, attributes the increases to better marketing, a growing college-age population in California, and higher demand and competition for admission.

"Students are much more likely to apply to multiple campuses now to hedge their bets and make their decisions later," Volkert said.

Freshman Rachel Sachs set up her laptop in her room at Mary Park HallSo what do this year's freshmen look like? Based on early enrollments, they are overwhelmingly female -- 64 percent-- an enrollment trend that has continued for more than 20 years. Minority students make up the largest number of the freshman class, at 63 percent. Whites comprise 32 percent, Asian Americans are 22 percent, Filipino Americans are 13 percent, Chicanos and other Latinos are 19 percent and African Americans are 7 percent. The percentage of freshmen identifying themselves as Chicanos or Latinos has increased by 2.6 percent over last fall's freshman class.

The University is becoming more of a destination campus for freshmen from outside the Bay Area. About 56 percent of the Californians in the first-year class are from Bay Area counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin. In fall 1992, more than 80 percent came from the Bay Area, Based on preliminary enrollment figures this fall, students from Los Angeles County comprise more than 10 percent of SFSU’s entire freshman class -- more than any other county except San Francisco and Alameda. This represents a major enrollment shift for SFSU.

"We do outreach to make sure Southern California students are well informed about the opportunities here," Volkert said. "The state's high school graduate population is greater in Southern California, so we must do our part to serve the state, not just our local population."

Many freshmen from outside the Bay Area choose SFSU for its moderate distance from their home and its location -- in one of the world's most beautiful, diverse cities that boasts a much cooler climate than their hometowns.

"It's far enough away so my parents can't check up on me, but I can catch a plane home in 45 minutes," said Natalie Torres, of Sherman Oaks. "I like the weather. I'm so sick of the heat."

More freshmen have yet to declare a major than those who have. Among those who have declared a major, psychology is the most popular, followed by cinema, art, journalism, and radio and television.

-- Matt Itelson
Photos: Matt Itelson and William Morris


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Last modified August 27, 2004 by University Communications