By Grace Beckner
More than 500 new students joined the TNU community this fall, marking a new milestone for admissions.
Melinda Miller, executive director of undergraduate admissions, said there were a total of 501 freshmen and transfers enrolled this fall, with 425 of those being freshman and 76 transfers. In the fall of 2020, there were 350 new freshmen and 66 transfers.
Miller said the admissions team was anticipating an increase in enrollment from the beginning of the recruitment cycle due to the new test-optional admissions policy. This meant students only needed a 2.5 cumulative GPA in order to qualify for admission, eliminating the need for a minimum ACT score of 18 in addition to a 2.5 GPA.
“When our cabinet and academic council approved test-optional admission, we knew that this would allow us to have more students be admitted, and potentially enrolled in the university,” she said.
Miller said the university will continue to be test-optional through 2022, but got approval to increase the minimum GPA requirement for admission from a 2.5 to a 2.75 cumulative GPA.
Miller does not foresee this upward trend in admissions to continue into next fall. She expects a slight decline in new students in the fall 2022 due to the new GPA requirement “narrowing the funnel” of incoming students.
“I don’t think it will be dramatic,” said Miller, “but it is a little bit too early to predict that accurately.”
According to statistics provided by Miller from admissions, 64% of new students are female and 36% of them are male.
Ethnicity statistics for the freshman class, as reported by students and recorded by the university, report 322 white students, 108 hispanic, 36 Black or African American, 21 asian, 10 American Indian or native American and 5 native Hawaiian or Pacific islander. Miller said it was important to note that students are not required to disclose ethnicity, and that they may select multiple categories.
Reported religious affiliation revealed 100 (23.5%) freshman students identify as Nazarene, a 12 person increase from the fall of 2020. 22% of the incoming freshmen identify as Non-Denominational, making it the second largest religious group on campus.
These reports stated that if freshman and transfer religious affiliation data were combined, the percentage of Non-Denominational students would exceed Nazarenes, meaning the majority of new students are not Nazarene.
Jessie Rubio, coordinator of new student programs and resident director for the ladies apartments, said freshman participation in LINK groups allows them to experience a “holistic-minded approach” to university orientation because it allows them to “get to know themselves, each other, and the university as a whole.”
Rubio said the new student increase has caused a renewed emphasis on the time spent towards ensuring intentional interactions with students in their LINK groups so the freshman feel known and a part of a community.
“We are making sure that not one student doesn’t have a support system,” said Rubio.
LINK groups present new students with information about services provided on campus meant to support them, such as counseling and tutoring, Rubio said.
Laurie Wells, Georgia Hall resident director and coordinator of wellness for student life, said the resident assistants and other resident directors were “pretty prepared” for the influx of freshmen this year.
“All our rooms are always ready for everyone,” said Wells. “With my RAs, because it is a large class, I want them to be sure they are very intentional that no one gets left behind or falls through the cracks.”
Wells said the freshmen she has interacted with have been excellent, both in their enthusiasm towards getting involved in college life, and their compliance with the university mask mandate.
“I think they are really happy to be here, I think they are happy that things are semi-back to normal, as we are allowed to have large events,” said Wells. “They are excited to get in there and be leaders, and help make things great on campus.”
Rubio described this year’s freshman as an interactive group excited to get to know each other and their new community, which she especially noticed in the way the students responded to the Field Day event being moved from Camp Widjiwagan to the Trevecca campus.
“We expected people to be super disappointed and maybe not as into it, but…every single one of them was having so much fun,” Rubio said. “They were all interacting, they were playing the games, you could tell in the way they were dressed up that they really went all out this year, and you could tell they were just really pumped to be here.”
Miller described this freshman class as “a group of overcomers,” who faced adversity and pushed through difficult times to be at Trevecca and have “come out on top.”