In response to the over-enrollment of the Class of 2016 by 49 students, the University will reduce the target class size of the Classes of 2017, 2018 and 2019 by 18 students each compared to this year's freshman class to create classes of 1,290 freshmen.
The University made the decision to reduce the size of future freshman classes over the summer as the Office of Admission created various models that projected the University’s undergraduate population over the next four years. The models examined the University’s ability to house the increased number of students throughout the undergraduate career of the Class of 2016.
In the last few years, the target incoming class size has hovered around 1,300, with last year’s target set at 1,308. Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said the decision to reduce future class sizes was purely logistical.
“Every school has different reasons that they set enrollment,” Rapelye said. “For us, it’s literally how many beds we have available in a given year, so that was what really drove our conversations.”
The plan aims to gradually compensate for the large class over the course of three years rather than in a single year in order to reach a steady state in the class size. There was a worry of undershooting the size of the Class of 2017, Rapelye explained.
“What we also wanted to do was avoid the seesaw effect that can happen if you go too far in the other direction,” Rapelye said.
Since the early 2000s, the University has attempted to increase its undergraduate size in accordance with the Wythes Plan, which was approved in 2000. Coinciding with the construction of Whitman College, the plan aimed to increase the size of the total student body from 4,600 to 5,100. To do so, the University sought to increase the size of each individual class from 1,200 to 1,300 beginning with the Class of 2013. As incoming freshmen, the Class of 2013 was made up of 1,315 students, the Class of 2014 of 1,312 students and the Class of 2015 of 1,298 students.
Rapelye said the Office of Admission is still unsure about how the new target size will affect the admission strategy. Last year’s enrollment accompanied the reinstatement of Early Action, making the yield difficult to predict. Last year, a total of 2,095 applicants were offered admission to the Class of 2016 — 726 of whom were accepted through the single choice early action program in December. In mid-May, the Office of Admission learned that it exceeded its target class size and did not offer admission to any of the 1,472 students placed on the wait list.
“I have no idea how many students we will admit this year, nor what the applicant pool will look like this year,” Rapelye said. “But we will be mindful of the fact that the yield was so very strong this past spring, and we’ll make adjustments as we go.”
The last time the University experienced an unexpectedly large yield was with the Class of 1999. Previously, incoming class sizes had been between 1,145 and 1,150, but 1,209 students enrolled for that class. The University compensated by decreasing the class sizes to 1,130 for the next two years.
While the Housing Office managed to find housing for the larger student body this year by increasing the occupancy of some rooms and using spaces that were previously not residential, students in the Class of 1999 had to be housed in trailers on Poe Field as a result of the large class size.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/04/31386/