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The largest class of incoming freshman in Dominican University’s history has arrived on campus.

While the final number of new first-year students will not be available until the September census,  more than 630 net deposits have so far been received, said Genaro Balcazar, vice president of enrollment management.

While the number may fluctuate a bit between now and then, it is clear that this will be the university’s largest freshman class, exceeding 2016’s record of 497 students.

“It’s exciting,” Balcazar said. “The goal had been to break the 500-mark, and during the last four years we’d gotten close, but had not been able to break it. Now, this year we have exceeded it, so there is a lot of excitement among the community.”

Why the surge in new students? It’s hard to say definitively, but a combination of various factors are likely at play.

In part, Balcazar attributes internal efforts to reach more prospective students, which includes new marketing efforts, increasing Dominican’s exposure to college-bound students nationwide, and becoming more data-informed. The latter allows the university to better streamline and align messaging to prospective students at the right points in the college admissions cycle.

Externally, the pandemic likely deferred college for many students, Balcazar noted, and they are now enrolling as in-person instruction rebounds. With students also back in the high school classroom during the 2021-22 school year, college registration is in the forefront of many first-generation college students’ minds in a way it may not have been during remote learning times, Balcazar said.

Dominican’s suburban location also makes it desirable, he said.

But even with an historically large freshman class, the small class sizes that have long been a draw for students will be maintained, with additional sections of courses added to accommodate the enrollment.

Ultimately, it is the students who will gain an advantage from the enrollment growth, Balcazar believes.

“Students will benefit by having a more vibrant campus with more students active on campus,” he said.