The new school year also brings many new changes to Bradley’s campus. Baker Hall has been torn down, Michel Student Center has been refurbished and new dining options have been introduced across campus. Like some of these changes, the incoming freshman class, which saw an increase in enrollment numbers, was also anticipated.
A record number of 10,232 students applied to Bradley for the 2017 fall semester. Justin Ball, vice president of enrollment management, collected the amount of freshmen and transfer students in comparison to previous years.
According to Ball, the new freshmen class will be about 1250 to 1275 new students, and 250 to 255 transfer students. The previous year, there were 1093 new freshmen and 202 new transfer students, and the year before, there were 933 new freshmen and 219 new transfers.
According to Ball, the reason behind the increase of class size is due to the efforts of faculty and staff to make Bradley more appealing to potential students, which have been a focus since the fall 2015.
“We have had exceptional efforts from Bradley faculty and staff to engage with prospective students and their families, as well as high school counselors,” Ball said via email. “The office of admissions worked hard to better identify students who would be a good fit for Bradley and [to communicate] with them and their families as early as their sophomore year in high school.”
Ball also said the university has taken many different approaches to better demonstrate the importance of the university’s appearance to potential students.
“From a marketing perspective, we have really focused on telling the story of the Bradley experience in a way that is authentic and addresses the real questions and concerns that students and parents have,” Ball said.
But, according to Provost Walter Zakahi, there were potential problems that had to be considered when taking on an increase in enrollment.
“We were a little bit worried in terms of classroom availability partially because of the loss of Baker hall, “ Zakahi said. “But we were able to accommodate and provide space for the new classes that we’re adding on, and we haven’t had a problem.”
Despite the increase in class size for the current freshmen class, both Ball and Zakahi said Bradley is not planning on increasing the amount of freshmen they accept in the future.
“We know what is a good number for us,” Zakahi said. “This year we were willing to up that goal a little bit simply because we’d had a couple smaller classes, so we knew we had some capacity.”
For fall 2018, the plans are to aim for a freshmen class of a range of 1080 to 1120 new students and 205 to 215 new transfer students.
“The freshmen class size is the result of excellent planning, execution, faculty involvement and a strong brand,” Ball said. “While it shows that Bradley University is a place that can deliver on providing students an exceptional experience, having classes this large in the future is not sustainable.”