The Daily Gamecock

Freshman class bigger, smarter than last year’s

For second year, entering students increase in quality

This fall, USC is welcoming 4,550 incoming freshmen — the largest freshman class in USC’s history.

Along with being the biggest class in school history, the freshmen have a projected average SAT score of 1198, which is up 10 points from last year. Average GPA is up to 3.83 from 3.72.

A few other facts about the class: 58 percent of the class is from South Carolina, and African-American enrollment is up 8 percent. The class is 45 percent male and 55 percent female. It includes 19 sets of twins and one set of triplets.

“We are incredibly proud of our outstanding freshman class,” said Dennis Pruitt, USC’s vice president for Student Affairs. “The words we use to describe them — biggest, brightest, increasingly diverse — all demonstrate that the university is a destination of choice for bright, confident, conscientious students from throughout the state, across the country and around the world.”

The rise in enrollment doesn’t come as too much of a surprise as USC experienced a 15-percent jump in freshman applications, bringing the total number of applicants up to 21,000. That’s four applications per available spot in the freshman class. Last year’s freshman class size was just over 4,400 students, meaning that this class is about 3.5 percent larger than last year. USC faced housing issues with last year’s shutdown of Patterson Hall for renovations; with the residence hall open, officials say there should be no woes this year.

“Determining the optimum class size is a delicate balancing act,” said Scott Verzyl, USC’s vice president for admissions. “We have to consider the carrying capacity of the university and our ability to provide advising, instruction, housing, meals, student services, etc. Enrollment growth does provide additional tuition revenue necessary to accommodate the growth, and also helps spread costs among more students. This factors into setting tuition and fees each year.”

The growing class sizes do help in raising revenue for the university while keeping tuition raises at a minimum. However, either class sizes will eventually have to stop getting larger, or USC will have to make changes to accommodate a constantly growing student body.

“We have been growing the size of the university for several years, both by increasing new students and by improving the retention and graduation rates of current students,” Verzyl said. “This is a good trend because our state and our nation need more college-educated students to meet the knowledge economy workforce demands. But, we also realize that to accommodate more students, there will come a point where we will have to grow our capacity as well. We are committed to providing a quality Carolina experience for all students, so we carefully weigh the costs versus benefits to enrollment growth, and plan accordingly.”