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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Record freshman class causes struggles for faculty, changes for student body

Nichaela Shaheen
Students attend a political science class in the LBJ Teaching Theater, Monday, Aug. 22, 2023, in San Marcos.

According to Texas State President Kelly Damphousse, the freshman enrollment for fall 2023 is about 7,900 students, making 2023 the third year in a row to see a record breaking freshman class. The enrollment of 7,900 freshman students sees an increase of around 4.5% over the previous record of 7,573 students set in 2022. 

The trend of record enrollment has brought new challenges to Texas State as faculty rush to meet demand for freshman courses, and some upperclassmen worry about the change in student body changing the university’s culture.

“We’re up 339 from last year and that’s 4.5% [from last year],” Damphousse said. “As of [Aug. 16] we have 7,910 freshmen.”

The three-year trend of record breaking freshman enrollment comes at a time when both total and freshmen enrollment is declining. According to the Texas Comptroller, there were 66,000 fewer college students in Texas in Fall 2022 than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The [first-year] classes have been getting bigger and bigger, which is exciting because across the United States, that’s not always the case,” Mary Brennan, dean of the Liberal Arts college, said.

As more freshmen are admitted, the demand for first-year courses, especially general education courses, has skyrocketed. With occupancy limits in classrooms, some departments, like the English department, have had to drastically increase the number of sections offered.

“We have 258 sections of [English] 1310 and 1320 combined. This is the largest number we have ever had. It represents a 17% increase from last semester,” Victoria Smith, chair of the English department, said in an email.

The increase in sections offered means hiring new faculty. Like with classrooms, there are a limited number of office spaces available, which can serve as a bottleneck. Brennan said that professors are sometimes doubling and tripling up office spaces to find room. 

“People are working in shifts in terms of the offices so that they do have some space to be on-campus to meet with students because you need to have office hours,” Brennan said.

General education classes are not the only classes growing on-campus. As the number of STEM majors being admitted to Texas State grows, even some higher level courses are experiencing a large influx of growth.

“Calculus III this year is our winner. It had… roughly a 60% increase in student enrollment when we were predicting a little more than [10%],” Susan Morey, chair of the math department, said.

For upperclassmen, the boom in the population of younger students has been met with some concern, as they worry it may change the university and its culture.

Hunter McGraw, a biology senior, said when he arrived at Texas State in 2019, it felt like he could actually settle into his dorm and his classes weren’t overfilled with students.

“With so many people all the time, it’s not the greatest environment for learning, and that is what Texas State is striving for, so I feel like they’re kind of shooting themselves in the foot,” McGraw said.

Some students and faculty wonder if the trend of increasing freshman enrollment will continue, or if there’s a ceiling where growth will slow or halt. 

“I think [growth] will continue for a few years, especially as we see the graduation rates improving so happily,” Morey said. “I think eventually you’ll reach a steady state, but I don’t think we are there yet.”

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