OSU, OU post largest freshman classes ever
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
8/22/12 at 10:09 AM
STILLWATER - The state's two largest universities are seeing record numbers of freshman classes this year, which officials attribute to relatively lower costs than other schools in the region.
The OSU freshman class of 4,300, which is almost 20 percent of the Stillwater campus, is the largest in the school's history as well as the largest in state history.
The University of Oklahoma isn't far behind with more than 4,100 freshmen enrolled this fall. It's OU's largest freshman class and broke last year's record of just over 4,000 freshmen.
Kyle Wray, vice president for enrollment and marketing at OSU, said a lot of factors could have contributed to the record number of new enrollments this year, including location and affordability.
Despite the increase in tuition and fees at both OU and OSU, Wray said the universities are still more affordable than other comparable schools in surrounding states.
"We're the best buy in the Big 12," Wray said. "We try to keep it affordable and accessible to everyone in Oklahoma."
Matt Hamilton, OU's vice president for enrollment and student financial services and registrar, said the university raised tuition and fees 3 percent, but looking around the country, many schools had higher increases than that.
Cara Boehnlein is from Dallas, but only visited Oklahoma's two largest universities before deciding on OSU.
"Texas schools are really competitive," Boehnlein said. "I checked out OU and OSU. I really liked the campus here (in Stillwater)."
The importance of academics programs at OU, its tuition rates and the continued emphasis on higher education all have played a factor in the continued enrollment growth, Hamilton said.
"I think a lot of it is continued value and affordability," Hamilton said. "It's a valuable commodity."
Even the success of the school's athletic programs can have an impact, Wray said.
"I see a lot more orange," he said, and it's a direct effect of the OSU football team's success last season. "It was the biggest year for the sale of orange products, by far."
Official student enrollment figures won't be tabulated for several weeks, after add/drop periods end.
In Tulsa, student enrollment at Oral Roberts University is up about 100 students over last year, the fourth year in a row of enrollment growth. New students this fall come from 34 countries.
"ORU is experiencing our fourth straight year of enrollment growth," said ORU President Mark Rutland. "This type of trajectory speaks to the excellent, whole-person education that ORU provides to students from around the world and every sphere of life,"
But the growing number of freshmen is also a challenge for the universities.
"It causes issues with class sizes and you have to hire more faculty. We've done that. Issues with housing, you end up with every bed full. Parking, food services," Wray said. "It causes these issues, which are good problems to have."
At the University of Tulsa, more than 800 freshmen have enrolled this year. New TU President Geoffrey Orsak said the class is one of the biggest in recent memory.
But exactly why several colleges and universities across Oklahoma have seen high freshman enrollments is a question many officials are asking, Hamilton said, and the answer seems to be complex.
"Some of the things aren't easy to explain," he said.
World Staff Writer Bill Sherman contributed to this story.
Oklahoma State University
2012 freshman enrollment: 4,300
2011 freshman enrollment: 3,900
University of Oklahoma
2012 freshman enrollment: 4,100
2011 freshman enrollment 4,000
Original Print Headline: Record numbers at OSU
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Emily Shields and Brody Chapman, both freshmen who are education majors from Owasso, are given coupons by Cody Stanley from Norman on the campus of Oklahoma State University on Monday. Oklahoma State's fall 2012 freshman enrollment is the largest for the school. KT KING / For the Tulsa World
Oklahoma State University welcomed the largest freshman enrollment in school and state history this fall. Classes began on Monday. Many other state universities are seeing record or near-record numbers of freshman classes. KT King/For the Tulsa World