St. Mary's flooded with incoming students

July 21, 2010 6:49:37 PM PDT
Lots of people know budget cuts are affecting many of the state's colleges and universities. Some have had to eliminate classes and limit enrollment, but one small, local, private college is seeing a surge in applicants and is doing its best to accommodate them.

The dorms at St. Mary's College are getting a new look just in time for this fall's record class of entering freshman.

"We had a 20 percent increase in applications," said vice-president of enrollment Michael Beseda.

Beseda says the incoming class of 680 will be the largest in school history.

"A greater proportion of those who were admitted chose to come to St. Mary's than we expected," said Beseda. "And even more interestingly, we've had a huge increase in transfer students."

That's despite St. Mary's rather pricey $35,000 tuition.

It's a cost offset by the fact that 80 percent of St. Mary's students receive financial aid and by the reality that here, they stand a better chance of graduating in four years, than at many other schools.

"Particularly compared to what's going on in the public system now, which is really in crisis and is having a hard time providing students with the courses and the educational services that they need," says dean of school of liberal arts Steve Woolpert.

To that end, St. Mary's is rehiring lecturers laid off in leaner times.

To accommodate all the new freshmen here at St. Mary's, they're even renovating their dorm rooms, making some doubles into triples.

Despite the tight quarters, incoming freshman Eric Wilson believes the expensive liberal arts college is the best choice for him.

"It's an investment to me. You spend $30,000 a year, but coming out of college you do have a better chance of making more money, so at the end of the day, it all works out I guess," said incoming freshman Eric Wilson.

It also doesn't hurt that St. Mary's has a nationally-recognized basketball team.

"If you're in Michigan, maybe you don't know a lot about St. Mary's, you see it on the basketball court and say 'Hey, I want to look at that school,'" says Beseda.

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