Dear Members of the Saint Mary's College Community,
I am delighted to share new undergraduate student enrollment results for fall 2010; without qualification, they are the most remarkable in at least the past half century at Saint Mary's. Whether measured in terms of quantity, quality, economic diversity or competitiveness, fall 2010 represents the strongest entering class in College history. The attached tables and charts provide descriptive and historical information on this historic group of new students.
New student enrollment of 907 is the largest in College history. It exceeds the previous record high in fall 2008 by 108 students (13.5%) and last year's new student class by 212 students (30.5%.) It also exceeds the College's budget target of 700 by almost 30%. Driven by a nearly 20% increase in first-year student applications and a 60% growth in transfer applicants, total first-year students of 695 and transfer of 212 both represent all-time College highs. Strikingly, fall 2010 transfer enrollment grew by over 70% from last fall and eclipsed the previous all-time high of 209 in fall 1992.
The academic credentials of the fall 2010 entering class are by far the strongest in College history. A record number of students enrolling with honors at entrance (112 - a 35% increase from the previous largest total) and an all-time low admit rate (75% vs. a previous low of 79%) resulted in the class's average GPA and test scores rising to 3.42 and 1103 respectively. Of note, the fall 2010 test score increase significantly understates the actual change since for the first time scores of students admitted to the College's High Potential Program are included in the average. These student's scores are included since they were admitted through the College's regular admission process.
The ethnic diversity of the entering class also reached record levels. In the first year that students were able to describe themselves using new census categories, 54% of the entering class identify themselves as African-American (7.8%), Asian-American (16.3%), Latino (26.8%) or Native American (3.5%). A record number of new students come from SMC's Lasallian partner secondary schools (67.) The male portion of the first year class grew to 39.3%
After two years of unprecedented growth in institutional financial aid expenditures driven by recession, SMC recalibrated its financial aid packaging approach. While institutional grant aid for new students increased by almost $2 million, total new undergraduate student net tuition revenue grew by over $6.5 million, and revenue per student achieved a record level ($20,888), a 17.5% increase. These increases occurred while the proportion of new students qualifying for Pell Grants also reached a record high - 33%. The new student discount rate declined to 36.6%, below the College's budget target of 37%.
Turmoil in the public sector of California higher education fueled strong new undergraduate student enrollment at most independent institutions in the state. Reports from these institutions indicate that concerns about students' willingness to choose private colleges in troubled economic times led most independents to admit a higher proportion of their applicants and to offer proportionally larger institutional financial aid awards. The College's success in lowering its admit and discount rates at this period is likely the most remarkable (perhaps unique?) achievement of the past enrollment cycle.
I am optimistic that our strengthened recruitment efforts, attention received via athletic and academic success and continued challenges faced by the public sector of higher education in California will allow SMC to continue to achieve our strategic enrollment objectives. For example, for the first time in Spring 2011, SMC will enroll a cohort of new first-year students â€“ filled by those we could not accommodate for fall 2010. At the same time, CSU has announced that unlike last spring, it will admit transfers for spring 2011. The academic year also began with media reports of improved access to courses and services at UC. Time will tell.
Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments.
Vice President for College Communication
Vice Provost for Enrollment