Weekend of Welcome tableThis fall Saint Mary’s not only enrolled the most students in its history — it also enrolled the smartest, most geographically diverse group ever.

Undergraduate enrollment for the 2011–2012 academic year increased by 8 percent over the previous year with an all-time high of 2,830 students. What’s more, first-year student applications were up 27 percent, which allowed the College to become more selective (a 69 percent acceptance rate, versus 75 percent last year — also a school record), to yield a freshman class of 648 students.

With an average GPA of 3.56 and average total SAT critical reading and math score of 1120, this freshman class is the strongest in the College’s history. The quality of the 199 transfer students has improved, too, evidenced by the fact that 27 of them enrolled with honors at entrance, nearly twice as many as the year before.

Moving InThe reasons for improved enrollment are many according to Michael Beseda, vice president for college communications and vice provost for enrollment. “People are increasingly recognizing the quality of a Saint Mary’s education. And because of our increasing visibility, those who may not have known about Saint Mary’s in the past are now aware and are applying,” he says.

More aggressive recruiting efforts, especially in Texas, Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest, have improved geographical diversity, with a 22 percent increase in the number of out-of-state freshman this year. Recruiters also spent more time traveling internationally, concentrating on the Philippines, Thailand, China, Japan and Korea.

So what does it all mean? “It means that Saint Mary’s is being perceived as a more competitive institution in general,” says Beseda. “And in particular the students are going to bring a more intellectual perspective to their classes, and the discussions around the table and in the dorm will be richer.”

And from the student perspective, it’s all about a good fit. Just ask Joanna Faletti, a freshman from Washington, D.C. With plans to teach kindergarten, she was attracted by the Teachers for Tomorrow program. Faletti also was interested in a school with small classes. But her passion for Saint Mary’s goes beyond that. “I just love it here. I remember coming on campus and feeling so comfortable,” she says. “It really feels like home.”

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