Last year, Purdue welcomed the largest class in school history, which was roughly 8,300 students.
This year, however, the University’s incoming class size has decreased.
June 10 marked the beginning of STAR on campus. From then until July 12, campus will host members of the incoming freshman class and their families, to sign them up for classes and prepare for the fall semester.
Vice Provost of Enrollment Management Kristina Wong Davis said the University actively tries to assess how large of a class it can take on.
“It’s typically a conversation that we have at the president and provost level, and often with the trustees, to decide, Where are we headed with Purdue? Where are we at currently in terms of total student body?" she said. "Where are constraints? Who can we teach? And then we start to take a look at what this next year’s class should look like based on where we have space.”
Last fall, Purdue received a lot of attention for the lack of student housing available for the incoming class.
“What happened last year was that we over-enrolled. So, we had more students say yes to us than we predicted," Wong Davis said. "It was a larger class than campus was able to handle. We did it, but it causes some strain on academic resources and housing, and so, what we didn’t want was another class size that might be a little too large for current resources.”
Rising Purdue senior Jaron Fay was a residence assistant during last fall's chaos.
“I never got training to handle students in temporary housing,” Fay said.
Purdue is already working on a solution to the housing problem, with multiple dorms either under construction or set to begin construction in the near future. Wong Davis said that last summer, the president and trustees discussed incoming class sizes, agreeing that they should bring the class of 2023’s size down in order to comfortably house, feed and educate the student population.
Fay believes that until these dorms are finished, it is a good idea to lower the incoming class sizes.
“Once these new residence halls are completed, I think Purdue can look to increase their class sizes again,” Fay said. He also emphasized that the number of rooms that these dorms will create will offer Purdue a lot of room to do just that.
According to Wong Davis, the University understands the complications that temporary housing can create.
“We want to make sure we are not impacting time to degree for any students," Wong Davis said. "This year’s class target was intentionally smaller than last year’s, to accommodate for all of that.”
Despite the drop in class size this year, the University expects the class size to continue to grow going forward, a trend that many other schools are not seeing.
“Data demonstrates that enrollments across all higher education decline year by year because of this declining high school population,” Wong Davis said. “We saw 300,000 fewer students across higher education enroll in Fall 2018, and we already project a decline across all institutions in 2019.”
Wong Davis credited Purdue’s brand and name recognition as why the University hasn’t seen a dip in incoming class sizes.
Despite this year’s class size being smaller than last year's, it was not a reflection of a lack of interest in Purdue. In fact, the number of applicants to Purdue is actually increasing, according to Wong Davis.
All 8,065 members of the class of 2023 will arrive on campus in the middle of August. Despite the drop, they are still the second-largest class in Purdue’s history.
Admissions projects that roughly 50 percent of the class will be Indiana natives, 12 to 13 percent will be international students, and the rest will be out-of-state students.