Snapshot of this Fall's frosh

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Richard Hughey, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

The Fall 2014 frosh class is, as everyone knows, particularly large. How did this happen, who are our new students, and how are we facilitating their success?

Each year, we attempt to predict how many students will accept our March 15 offer of admission and enroll in the Fall. It's a blend of art and science, and this year two forces combined to create a bigger-than-normal class: A slightly higher percentage of students accepted our offer, and our outreach to non-resident prospective students was quite successful.

In total, we enrolled 384 more students than planned: 228 California residents and 156 non-residents. The good news is that among Californians, the biggest bump came among top students, with GPAs of 3.71 and above.

While we intended and expected to increase our non-resident enrollment this year, we underestimated the speed with which our recruitment efforts would pay off. Our international frosh enrollment jumped 233 percent, while our out-of-state frosh enrollment increased by 72 percent, both surpassing our goals. The Fall class brings exceptional geographic diversity to campus, more than doubling the number of countries represented to 33, and slightly increasing the number of states to a total of 35.

Equally notable, the number of Dreamers (undocumented AB 540 students) increased 56 percent over last fall, to almost 350.

Why did so many students want to join our campus this year? It's likely a combination of factors. There's no question our reputation is getting a boost from our consistently high rankings for research impact and student experience. Word is also getting out about our expanded first-year honors program, our distinctive college living/learning experience, and our diverse academic and co-curricular programs. The multi-year national and international recruitment effort is also getting the word out about our campus. The broader publicity of The Campaign for UC Santa Cruz, as well as the new campuswide undergraduate research web presence, may also have helped students appreciate what we offer.  

As we do each Fall, we are working rapidly to support the needs of this year's entering class. Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway provided funding for new sections of key math courses to ensure that every student who needs a seat would have one. We also offered the new international cohort an optional month-long summer session program and a 10-day Fall orientation. We gave California students a choice of one-, two-, and three-day summer orientations, as well as special programs for undocumented students and students in our Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP). Another cohort of California students was selected to participate in the EOP Bridge Program; they arrived a week before classes started and will continue to receive support throughout the academic year.

Always seeking to figure out the best ways to help students graduate in four years or less, the campus is also embarking this year on a broad review of the first-year writing curriculum, as well as the mathematics curriculum. Based on our experience with summer academies, we expect to add programs over the next two summers for incoming California and domestic frosh, and new transfer students. These programs will help ensure that all students have time to connect with each other and the campus community, and to prepare for their first year of living and learning at UC Santa Cruz.

Overall, with enhanced programs to support the success of all our students, this will be a particularly exciting year (like most!).