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UM is Growing and Adapting, Are You Ready?

The University of Mississippi is attracting record-breaking numbers of freshman students and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, this growth has been steady for 19 straight years, giving Ole Miss the highest enrollment in the state of Mississippi.

Photo Courtesy of University News Service
Photo Courtesy of University News Service

While college admissions are declining nationally, admission at Ole Miss is experiencing quite the opposite trend. Fall 2013 brought the largest freshman class the University has ever seen, with an enrollment of 22,300 new students. That’s a 3.5 percent rise in enrollment and 7 percent increase on campus.
Meanwhile, according to the United States Census Bureau, college enrollment in fall 2012 fell by half a million nationally from the previous year. This makes for the largest freshman class in Mississippi history. These new students have higher ACT scores and student retention rates, according to University of Mississippi News.
The University is already making changes in order to accommodate this influx of students especially regarding on-campus housing.
“Due to the growth of our incoming class, we will only be able to offer housing to a limited number of our returning students,” said The University of Mississippi Department of Housing.
This is news to current freshmen girls who were expecting to live in Crosby Hall, which is primarily a sophomore girl’s dorm.
“Not only is this inconvenient, having to drive to campus everyday for class next year, I also feel unwanted,” said Hallie Knotts, freshman integrated marketing communications major.
Even though the chances are slim, the Department of Housing is offering a very limited number of Campus Walk apartments or rooms in the residential colleges. These opportunities would only be offered to returning freshman who have completed two semesters of on-campus residency, sophomores, and upperclassmen.
Ole Miss can credit many things to it’s growing population of incoming students. Perhaps it’s the campus being named the most beautiful by the Princeton Review, Oxford being ranked the second best college town by Livability.com, and Forbes naming Ole Miss No.18 on their list of best value colleges.
Also there are the nationally ranked academic programs. For example, the School of Accountancy ranked in the top 10 in the United States.
Senior Journalism major Olivia Rearick likes to think of her graduating class as “The Blind Side year” in that they were the first freshman class after the movie debuted. Just like a big movie premier, her class showed up on campus in a big way.
“At the time our freshman class was a record breaker. However, each year the freshman class is only getting bigger,” said Rearick.
Photo courtesy of Robert Jordan /Ole Miss Communications
Photo courtesy of Robert Jordan /Ole Miss Communications

Unlike Rearick, who is finishing her college career, the incoming freshman will start theirs with orientation this summer. The University even added more orientation dates at the end of June and beginning of July.
What may seem like a daunting task to most, making thousands of freshman familiar with campus is exciting to the orientation leaders, who get to greet them first.
“The orientation leaders are just excited to have more incoming students and meet and introduce all the new faces to the legacy of Ole Miss,” said junior orientation leader and anthropology major, Grace Meyers.
Ambassadors of the University provide freshman with campus tours and see first-hand who Ole Miss is attracting among high school students.
“There are definitely a wide variety of geographic regions represented, from Virginia to California,” said Paige Gremillion, a senior political science major who was an ambassador her junior year.
Gremillion believes it is the price of out-of-state tuition that attracts students from afar, which is lower than other public universities. It costs about $33,000 for a non-resident, full-time undergraduate student.
Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Student Housing
Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Student Housing

Chancellor Dan Jones believes that it is all these great things together that make Ole Miss a great choice for college. University of Mississippi News reported that highs school students and their parents are evaluating universities more closely, not just in Mississippi, but also across the country. Chancellor Jones said he believes they are focused on four major elements: nationally recognized academic excellence, exciting careers after graduation, a competitive price, and a collegiate experience they’ll treasure for a lifetime.
Rearick also agrees that her college experience at Ole Miss was one-of-a-kind. What she loves about Ole Miss is the family feeling you experience around campus.
“You are not a statistic or student ID number like at other schools.,” Rearick said. “You are supported, encouraged, and recognized for your worth to the university.”
Ole Miss is sure to accept yet another record-breaking freshman class this Fall. Welcome, Class of 2018.
– Maggie Durnien, staff writer, HottyToddy.com, mkdurnie@go.olemiss.edu

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