The University of Oregon welcomed its largest class of incoming freshmen ever on the first day of classes Tuesday, breaking several other records as well.
For the second year in a row, UO saw a high increase in its freshman class. In fall 2021, the freshman class totaled 4,617 students, a 17% increase from 2020. This fall, UO saw a 16% increase from 2021 with 5,338 first-year students, claiming a 36% increase in its freshman class over the past five years.
Additionally, UO is highlighting several other enrollment numbers that were either new records or tied with previous records:
Average high school GPA: 3.76
Freshman students from a diverse race or ethnicity: 36%
Transfer students: 1,012
New undergraduate students: 6,350
Roger Thompson, vice president for student services and enrollment management, said one of the factors in the higher enrollment is the Oregon Guarantee, an initiative launched in 2020 that promises a static tuition rate from a student's first year for up to the next five years at UO.
Thompson said the UO enrollment team has also worked to reach out to prospective students.
Enrollment through COVID-19
University-wide enrollment numbers will come out four weeks after the first day of classes, according to Thompson. However, he did affirm that there will be an overall increase.
Thompson noted that compared to other universities nationwide, UO's enrollment suffered minimally during the pandemic. Overall, enrollment at UO decreased 3.6% from 2019 to 2020, but saw a 2.2% increase from 2020 to 2021.
"We've read about plenty of schools across the country that really haven't been able to do that. Their freshman class is shrinking, or barely staying the same," Thompson said. "For us to basically go up by, you know, 36% in the last five years, with three of those years impacted by the pandemic, we're pretty proud of that."
Similarly, Oregon State University welcomed an increased number of students this school year, which started for them on Sept. 21.
Preliminary estimates find overall enrollment, including the OSU online Ecampus, to be up about 3.5%, according to district officials. Last year, university-wide enrollment increased by 2.2%. Enrollment at the OSU main campus in Corvallis has an estimated 1% increase from last fall.
However, these numbers could change before enrollment is finalized in the coming weeks, OSU spokesman Steve Clark said in an email. He added that this will be the 26th consecutive year of enrollment growth for the university.
"Preliminarily, we anticipate that OSU will set many enrollment records this fall," Clark stated. "This is a strong indication of Oregon State University being a destination of choice for more and more students across Oregon and beyond to get a high-quality education."
For freshman enrollment, specifically, OSU is seeing a clear increase. Freshman enrollment at the OSU main campus will increase almost 10% from last year, according to school officials. OSU-Cascades − the university's branch campus in Bend − estimates a 15% increase in freshmen.
Clark stated OSU also anticipates a more diverse freshman class, with a 38% increase in Black students and a 2.4% increase in Latino students.
Strengthening the community
UO also saw a boost in out-of-state students.
Thompson said UO had 22 states set new record numbers of first-year students enrolling in the university, including Washington, California, Colorado, Arizona, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Maryland and Louisiana.
"Our team has been working for the better part of a decade to try to expand our reach to make the University of Oregon more appealing in other states," Thompson said. "We did really well across every county in the state of Oregon, every state across the country and around the world."
Thompson said the new crop of Ducks will hopefully bring new perspectives to the broader Eugene community.
"We are bringing talented young people with creative, innovative approaches to their learning and to life, and how they will create their future to Eugene," Thompson said. "That creates a vibrancy that the city needs, and that the city should embrace. The University of Oregon is really important to the city of Eugene. And so for us to be enrolling a record-breaking class of this nature, I think helps our community tremendously."
This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: UO breaks freshman enrollment record for second year in a row