University of Minnesota deals with large freshman class

Published 5:00 pm Sunday, November 5, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota is struggling to handle the largest freshman class the university has seen in almost 50 years.

The university enrolled almost 6,200 new freshmen this fall, in addition to almost 2,300 transfer students, Minnesota Daily reported.

The large influx of students has strained the university’s school housing, financial aid and certain classes, said Bob McMaster, the university’s Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education.

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The university typically sets informal enrollment goals and every college exceeded their goal this year, he said.

“We over-yielded on our predictions, and that’s not a good thing to have,” McMaster said. “One does not want to grow indiscriminately.”

The higher enrollment has made some classes crowded, said Nicholas Hopper, a computer science and engineering professor.

“We do not have instructional lab spaces to accommodate many more students,” Hopper said.

Some instructors have broken up classes into smaller lab groups, said Anthony Young, an astronomy professor.

The university opened more resident halls to freshmen and extended leases with off-campus apartments in order to accommodate more people, McMaster said. About 88 percent of freshmen live in university housing.

“We’ve been able to squeeze everybody in,” McMaster said.

Officials don’t believe the large class size will negatively impact educational quality, McMaster said. Enrollment administrators will closely monitor the freshman class size in the future, he said.

“Sixty-two hundred students every year might cause strain, so we have to be careful,” McMaster said. “We have to think about how big we want these classes (to be) in the future.”