Big and Bright

08.04.2005 | Campus and Community, StudentsThe University of Dayton this month will welcome a bumper crop of new students. About 2,000 first-year students are expected to arrive on campus for orientation on Aug. 18. It's the largest first-year class since 1969 -- and the brightest, as measured by college test scores.

Classes start Aug. 22 at the state's largest private university and one of the 10 most prominent Catholic universities in the nation.

Applications, at 8,679, hit a record level for the fourth year running, with seat deposits up nearly 10 percent. UD offered 300 high school seniors a slot on its wait list for acceptance.

"More students want to come than we can serve. There's a huge demand for a University of Dayton education," said Robert Johnson, vice president for enrollment management. "The quality of the academic programs, the distinctive living-learning environment and the sense of community on campus have all contributed to an elevated national reputation."

Applications hit record levels at other schools this spring, but the University of Dayton's 6.4 percent upswing surpassed the national average. "Nationally, most schools were up 3 to 5 percent in applications," Johnson said.

Both SAT and ACT test scores are the highest in school history. Out-of-state enrollment is up -- the result of a marketing effort by UD to expand its geographic reach as the number of college-aged students in Ohio declines. Approximately 59 percent of the first-year class hails from Ohio, with 41 percent enrolling from out of state. Nationally, the gender gap continues to widen, with more women (57.4 percent) than men (42.6 percent) attending college, but the University of Dayton bucks that trend with a nearly equal number of men (49.1 percent) and women (50.9 percent).

The hottest majors? Pre-medicine, pre-law, international business, political science, English and nearly every major in health and sport science.

Even though this class hasn't yet stepped foot on campus, they've already spent lots of time together online --16 million minutes, to be exact. As part of "Virtual Orientation," [http://vo.udayton.edu/] they've sent a record 33,308 messages to each other -- mostly between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. While online, they've purchased textbooks, participated in discussions with faculty and determined who is bringing the lava lamp for their residence hall rooms.

Their college homework began this summer. All incoming students are taking a mandatory online three-hour alcohol education course and reading David Hilfiker's Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen. During orientation, they will participate in a "Real Deal About Alcohol at UD" session. They also will listen to Hilfiker talk about poverty and the impact of welfare reform legislation at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, in the Thomas J. Frericks Athletic and Convocation Center. The speech, free and open to the public, is part of the University of Dayton's Distinguished Speakers Series. After the speech, students will break into small groups with faculty members and discuss the book's issues. Hilfiker, a medical doctor, has worked in inner-city clinics in Washington, D.C., and founded Joseph's House, a center for homeless men living with AIDS.

For the first time, nearly a quarter of the incoming class (460 students) will be living in four "learning-living" communities on the same residence hall floors. For example, the "Building Communities for Social Justice" group grows out of UD's Marianist commitment to educate students for service, justice and peace. The community's 125 students will take the same first-year courses in English, religion and philosophy, participate in shared service-learning projects and meet periodically for meals, conversations and programs that explore issues of social justice.

The initiative is an intentional effort to blur learning and living, with the goal of providing a more intellectually rich learning environment for students, according to UD administrators.

"The national literature indicates that retention and student conduct in residence halls tend to improve where intentional learning-living communities are developed," said Paul Benson, associate dean for integrated learning and curriculum in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"These pilot learning-living communities reflect a hallmark of UD's Catholic, Marianist tradition," he said. "Students are educated in the context of a strong, supportive, yet challenging, community in which each student's potential is affirmed and developed."

Contact Robert Johnson about enrollment at (937) 229-3717; Marcus P. Robinson, director of Internet development and Web strategy, about Virtual Orientation at (937) 229-2253; and Paul Benson about learning-living communities at (937) 229-2602.