Every year students from all over the world arrive on campus to obtain a degree in order to get ahead in a competitive world. Enrollment has climbed over the past years and Mason is becoming an increasingly popular university among national and international students. “We have gone from a very local, regional university going back fifteen or twenty years to kind of a nationally, if not internationally known university where a lot of people want to come now,” Associate Dean of Admissions Daniel Robb said.
According to Robb, enrollment at Mason has increased due to both budgetary and strategic reasons which have been aimed at growing the university. This semester, approximately 5,500 students are living on campus, which is about the same number of people who lived on campus last year. Plans to open more housing on campus in the near future are currently being debated. By next fall an estimated 6,000 to 6,500 students will be living on campus, Robb said.
This year, Mason received about 18,000 freshman applications and enrolled about 2,600 freshmen, 80 percent of whom
now live on campus. “Of our freshman class, I would say there are a quarter out-of-state students, which is the highest we have ever been,” Robb said. Targets are now being set to determine how many freshmen will enter Mason next year, but Robb said that the number should be approximately the same as this year. About 2,500 transfer students entered Mason this semester.
Those waitlisted usually do not get an opportunity to enroll because there is not enough space. “Just based on numbers and capacity, we just couldn’t offer everyone admission, even those who were close. So we almost don’t go to the waitlist anymore,” Robb said. “One of the reasons enrollment keeps going up is because the retention rate has improved dramatically.”
According to Robb, 20,000 undergraduates and 13,000 graduates are studying at Mason this year. Considering the facilities Mason has to offer and its fiscal plan, Robb believes that 33,000 students is an appropriate number for campus size. “If we decide to grow, it’ll be very small numbers, really looking at the quality of incoming students as opposed to increasing the overall quantity of them,” Robb said. “We have kind of decided to stabilize new student enrollment to keep the enrollment of the university kind of around where it is, within a percent, and we have been real successful at doing that.” Recently graduate enrollment has slowed down, presumably caused by the economic downturn. “The economy goes bad and people don’t want to leave their jobs to go back to school,” Robb said. “People’s families are faced with unemployment.”