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Ohio State gains fewer freshmen, but test scores are best in school history

TNS Regional News • Aug 25, 2014 at 11:07 AM

The freshman class at Ohio State University is slightly smaller this fall than in past years but, as with years of new classes before, it has the highest average test scores in school history.

By this weekend, the Columbus campus will have about 7,000 new freshmen, around 100 fewer than last fall, the university announced yesterday. It’s a small dip after years of growth: During the past decade, the freshman class at Ohio State has grown by almost 20 percent.

“It was by design,” Dolan Evanovich, vice president for strategic enrollment planning, said of the smaller class. “Now, we’re going to hover somewhere around 7,000. We feel like that’s a good number for incoming freshmen, for us to be able to provide a high-quality living and learning experience.”

Demand for Ohio State hasn’t diminished, data show. The 42,800 students who applied to the Columbus campus this year marked a record for the school, and they represent a 20 percent jump in applications since last year.

“This is a fantastic class, our best ever, again making this the best student body that we’ve ever had at Ohio State,” said Joseph Steinmetz, the provost of the university.

Steinmetz, Evanovich and Javaune Adams-Gaston, the vice president for student life, discussed the new class yesterday at a news conference. OSU President Michael V. Drake did not attend.

As in past years, the gains in test scores are incremental.

The average ACT score improved to 28.8, and the SAT average rose to 1,270. Both are about 1 percent higher than last year. About 62 percent of the freshmen had grades in the top 10 percent of their graduating high-school classes, up from 58 percent last August.

There is room to improve on the share of minority students enrolling at Ohio State, officials said. About 17 to 18 percent of the new freshmen are minorities, Evanovich said, about the same as last fall. That’s an increase of 3 percentage points over the past decade.

“Am I happy with it? No,” Evanovich said. “I think we’re going to continue to push that and continue to diversify racially, geographically, internationally –– diversity with a big D.”

Almost 1 of every 3 freshmen now comes from outside Ohio, a slight increase since last year but a major historical shift for the university. Recruiters at Ohio State have focused on attracting students from population hubs in California, New York, Texas, Georgia and Washington, D.C., as the population of college-age people declines across the Midwest.

The share of students from outside the U.S. ticked up about 1 percentage point, to 8 percent.

Ohio State and Ohio University have weathered the population slide better than many other schools in Ohio. Total OSU enrollment has boomed in recent years while it has dived at dozens of colleges.

On Thursday, about 1,000 students moved onto campus, and on Saturday those “welcome leaders” will help 6,000 other students move into residence halls. Traditionally, students moved in on Sunday, but the school moved it ahead last year to give students an extra day on campus.

Today, Drake and other university leaders are to welcome new students during a convocation on campus; and later in the day, Mayor Michael B. Coleman is scheduled to welcome students to the city at Nationwide Arena. Classes start on Wednesday.

“I think this is great intellectual capital and talent that we’re bringing here to Columbus,” Steinmetz said, “and I hope they remain.”


By Collin Binkley - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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