Largest freshman class comes to UMass

By Sam Hayes

Continuing a trend that started several years ago, this year’s incoming freshmen class at the University of Massachusetts is again one of the largest, most selective and top-ranking classes in UMass’ history, according to school statistics.

Hannah Cohen/Collegian
Hannah Cohen/Collegian

The class of 2015 has the largest student body in the school’s 148-year history with roughly 4,700 pupils among the group – about 200 more students than last year’s entering class, according to a University release. And, collectively, the nascent group of students netted a 3.62 high school grade point average and attained SAT scores higher than its preceding class by 20 points – lifting the cumulative average score to 1187.

UMass Chancellor Robert Holub said in a statement that he feels the stellar academic background of the incoming class reflects on the University’s own academic prestige.

“The high caliber of our incoming students is clear evidence that UMass Amherst is a leading choice for outstanding students in Massachusetts and across the nation,” Holub said, according to the University release. “We welcome this superb group of students to one of the nation’s best public research universities and our wealth of life-changing opportunities.”

Some of the incoming students, such as Meghan Andersen, agree with Holub’s sentiment.
“I was reaching for a more selective school in the college application process, but once I heard that each year UMass [became] more selective it made me feel a lot better about my choice,” said Andersen, 19, of Falmouth. “Working hard in high school did eventually pay off in order to get into a great school.”

And, even though she’ll be one of about 4,700, Andersen said she doesn’t think larger a larger class size will be too much of a problem.

“I am nervous about how big the school is, but I know [that] once everyone settles in it will be a great year and a good experience, she said. “I’m looking forward to more students and bigger classes, and [to] finally being on my own.”

Echoing Andersen’s attitude, fellow freshman Audra Schlehuber, 18, of Norton, agreed that the class of 2015’s exclusiveness is a good thing.

“I’m proud that I’m part of it,” Schlehuber said of her academically record-breaking class. “A lot of my high school friends who expected to get in (to UMass) got wait-listed. In the past few years I think people’s view of UMass has changed because of this, because it is getting harder to get in to.”
Schlehuber, a Commonwealth Honors College student, is seemingly in good company with 694 other freshmen that are also part of the selective college – an increase of about 200 students when compared to last year’s numbers. The incoming honors students have average SAT scores of 1325 and high school GPAs of 4.12, according to the release.

In addition to the boost in honors college students, UMass also received a spike in applications for this year’s class. Over 32,500 applications were received for the class, according to the release, which is a 6 percent jump from the previous year’s application numbers. Early Action applications also grew this year by 20 percent, with 40 percent of the incoming class applying early.

Since 2003, the number of applicants has consistently doubled. And, concurrently, the University has also become more selective – accepting 66 percent of applicants this past year compared to 82 percent in 2003, the release stated.

This semester, the undergraduate population has also increased by 550 about students, bringing the total number of pupils to about 20,700, according to statistics. About 21 percent of those students, the statistics show, are from out-of-state.

Sam Hayes can be reached at [email protected]