Although Rutgers is continuously constructing new buildings and residence halls for students, the University may see a problem as it takes in it’s largest first-year class to date.
The Rutgers Class of 2020 is compromised of 8,600 students, a record-breaking class size. The large number of students is due to an increase in applications to the University, according to Rutgers Today. More than 39,000 people applied.
This continues a five-year trend of an increasing numbers of students attending Rutgers. Roughly 7,500 students enrolled for the class of 2016, according to Rutgers Today.
Courtney McAnuff, vice president for Enrollment Management at Rutgers, said this is also a record breaking year for first-year students at Rutgers—Newark and Camden, with 1,450 students attending Newark and 650 opting to attend Camden.
“Enrollment for Fall 2016 will be higher than last year. All four Rutgers campuses are projected to increase enrollment," McAnuff said. "This will be a record high enrollment for Rutgers, projected to exceed 68,000 students.”
The increased enrollment isn’t specifically limited to one school. But some schools are expecting more students than others, he said.
The School of Arts and Sciences is the largest school at Rutgers, so it will enroll the largest number of students, he said.
The School of Engineering and Rutgers Business School will enroll larger first-year classes in New Brunswick as well, but “the other schools will either stay the same or have smaller first-year classes,” he said.
According to Rutgers Today, many new students have declared majors in business, health or related clinical science professions such as pre-med and pharmacy, biomedical sciences, engineering and computer and information sciences.
The article described this year's class as a “smart bunch,” with 66 percent of incoming students representing the top 20 percent of their high school, and 140 valedictorians and salutatorians.
While an increase in applicants and students at the University could be beneficial, McAnuff recognizes that there are some problems that could occur.
“In New Brunswick, the University has to balance growth with the quality of the student experience. We need to minimize the demand for bus transportation, as well as making sure we have adequate classroom space and classes,” he said.
Dan Morrison, executive director of Residence Life at Rutgers, said the University is not currently planning to build any more residence halls, so students should be ready for room adjustments in order to accommodate the extra students.
In the past four years, there have been four residence halls opened. BEST Hall located on Busch, the Livingston Apartments, the Honors College and College Avenue Apartments offer nearly 3,050 beds, Morrison said in an email.
“We always work to get all first-years into on-campus housing who want it. Certainly the ability to give all students the space they need, for safety, is a major consideration. Some rooms might be able to be ‘tripled,’” he said.
Morrison urges continuing students to be sure to apply early if they want to secure a spot on campus.
There can be significant problems when the University is responsible for such a large amount of students, McAnuff said.
While students worry about whether or not they will be able to take the classes that they want to take, he said the University is doing everything that it can to make sure that slots will be open.
“While there are always some issues giving student all the classes they want, we strive to assure that there are adequate classes to assure an on-time graduation. It is very important to the University that full-time students are able to complete their degree requirements within four years,” he said.
Enrollment is determined first by determining campus and University goals by working with the chancellors and University President Robert L. Barchi, McAnuff said.
The projected returning student numbers is factored in with the projected new first-year, transfer and graduate students to determine projected enrollments, he said.
The numbers are usually precise due to a statistical examination of the five-year rolling average, McAnuff said.
“It is essential that they be accurate because it impacts classroom utilization as well as housing occupancy and numerous support services such as financial aid and student life,” McAnuff said.
First-year students are given priority in terms of housing, Morrison said.
“After we account for first-year housing, we ask continuing students to sign up," he said. "This number after analyzing those students' seniority, determines when a student, or group of students, choose their fall room/apartment."
More first-year students have enrolled than last year and the numbers prove that, McAnuff said.
Although there are sure to be issues in the future, both Morrison and McAnuff agree that the advantages of a high enrollment rate outweigh the disadvantages.
“Being wanted is always a blessing. I truly believe that those who want to be on campus, and join us (Residence Life) in their journey, have a richer college experience,” Morrison said.
The University has done a great job in furthering students in their careers and has created a great reputation for itself, McAnuff said.
“As students have a great campus experience they tend to persist and graduate. Rutgers has seen its enrollment grow significantly because students are performing better academically each year, returning and graduating at a higher rate,” he said.
McAnuff said he looks forward to the future and hopes that the University can continue to help many more students follow their dreams and graduate with the degrees they desire.
“It's a very exciting time for (Rutgers) New Brunswick. Our returning student enrollment is at an historic high. More students are returning and completing their degrees,” he said.
Nicole Osztrogonacz is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in English. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. Find her on Twitter @nikki_osz for more.