The Seattle University campus continues to make strides as the largest first-year class in the 127-year history of the university joins campus, with 1,083 new students declaring themselves Redhawks.
First-year International Studies student Alex Howerton is excited to be a part of such a large incoming class.
“I think it’s really cool being a part of such a big class and just coming into that with the school growing,” Howerton said. “I think it’s really positive and I’m happy to be here”
This year, SU welcomes a first-year class of over 1,000 students.
The incoming first-year class surpassed the size of the 2017 incoming class with a 13 percent increase.
Leah Quinn, director of the orientation programs, explained how the increase of the first-year student population may affect the Seattle U community.
“I share concerns that others do at new student registration and the university core, that physically our spaces are not designed to have gigantic classes,” Quinn said. “It requires a little bit of work on the registrar, on faculty, on UCOR, on new student registration to make sure that all these incoming students have classes that they need to progress towards graduation.”
Director of Admissions and Seattle U alum Katie O’Brien gave insight on what the admissions process looks like.
“The admissions office, we don’t set our enrollment goals for the university,” O’Brien said.“The university’s goals are set by a conversation between the cabinet and various boards of trustees.”
Last year’s first-year class reached a high of 957 new Seattle U students. However, there was not a significant increase in the whole of undergraduate admissions—there were only three percent more students admitted in 2018 than the previous year.
Admissions goals for the year was to have 1,020 first year students be welcomed into the Seattle U community and 430 students transfer. These numbers are based on budget implications that the university has to meet.
“It’s tricky because we don’t want to come too far below that goal, because then there are budget cut implications and things that students are also adversely impacted. We obviously don’t want to go too high above that goal because of capacity issues,” O’Brien said. “Enrollment management unfortunately is not an exact science.”
This unpredicted first year class size can largely be traced back to the 2018 nursing school admissions. Admissions accepted the same amount of first time in college nursing students as they had for the previous 2017 year. The difference is the nursing program in 2018 had increased by ten percent compared to the 2017 incoming nursing students.
With the incoming class size becoming more and more unpredictable, this can cause complications in the acceptance and enrollment process. There is no direct way in measuring this particular study of how many students to accept and how many student will actually come to the university in fall.
Quinn continued to express her concerns about what the increasing first-year class size means for the orientation programs as they begin to get larger. As the orientation groups continue to get larger, it becomes harder for the orientation advisors to develop personal connections with their incoming students.
“We supplement a little bit with Welcome Week Guides in the fall, so that way when new students are here and getting back together with their small group, they got another current student at SU to look to as a resource, mentor and role model. We’re planning for the size of an incoming class.”
The Seattle U community is typically advertised as an intimate space for students of the university.
“It feels good. Orientation really helped make it feel like it wasn’t that big,” first-year nursing student Maya Lazo-Fanning said. “I was able to connect with people pretty quickly and not too overwhelming.”
However, the amount of student enrollment is always fluctuating. The number of incoming students is either increasing or decreasing year after year.
Though this first-year class is the biggest in Seattle U history, the number admitted remains largely unchanged, with growth coming from enrollment rates. The city of Seattle is a growing community and as Seattle U continues to gain a reputation, students will continue to be drawn in.
Caylah may be reached at