The incoming class of freshmen and transfer students on the campuses of Temple University is the largest in more than a decade, consistent with the upward trend of students enrolling in colleges across the country. At 5,225, the number of new faces is both a source of pride and a burden for Temple.
More than 3,200 freshmen enrolled at Temple for the fall semester after the university received almost 14,000 applications. Both figures are a 13 percent increase from last year.
More impressive, however, is the expansion over the past few years, Director of Admissions Timm Rinehart said. Fewer than 10,000 freshmen applied to Temple in the fall of 1998.
“That’s essentially a 40 percent increase in applicants over a two year period,” Rinehart said.
Although enrollment numbers have increased similarly, Temple has been more selective during this span of growth. This year, average SAT scores for incoming students have risen from 1019 two years ago to 1036 this year. The admissions office also denied six percent more applicants than it did last year.
“All of the academic markers, namely class standing, grade point average, and SAT scores, are up significantly,” vice president of enrollment, Tom Maxey said.
Also, more students are coming from outside the city of Philadelphia, be it from farther away in Pennsylvania, other states, or other countries. More than 30 percent of students now at Temple are from out of state — including 572 international students.
These students are changing the image of Temple from a commuter to a residence school, according to Maxey, who is also acting vice president for development.
“In less than five years,” Maxey said, “where the demand was somewhere around 30 percent for dormitory space here among students, it’s now approaching 70 percent.”
The university is still catching up to this shift. Temple ran out of housing for the incoming class on the main campus, forcing some freshmen to live in dormitories on the Tyler and Ambler campuses. In addition, about 700 students are living off campus in Temple-sponsored housing throughout the city including Presidential City apartments on City Avenue.
Officials say they have been expecting and preparing for this increase in students by adding buildings and faculty to handle the influx.
“The bottom line is we have a better product than we had two years ago. This is a better Temple,” Rinehart said, pointing to new facilities on the main campus such as the Liacouras Center, the Tuttleman Learning Center, and added residence halls, including some still being built.
“This notion of ‘Temple town’ is becoming more and more real to students and faculty,” Maxey said, referring to the university’s efforts to change its image to a safe and vital community in North Philadelphia.
In fact, the changing reputation and increased enrollment has not come by accident.
“We’ve greatly improved and expanded our on- campus visit program,” Rinehart said, citing well-trained tour guides, open houses and receptions for prospective students.
“As we get more and more good students, they go back to their high schools,” Maxey said. “They’re the best advertisement we have, our satisfied customers.”
Freshmen themselves suggest other reasons for choosing to attend Temple. One is the college’s growing national reputation. A student from Main campus was quick to mention the men’s basketball team when describing her perception of the school before she came.
Other freshmen say a big draw is that Temple is an urban school.
“There’s always something to do, and I love the city,” Dawn Blanco, an undeclared freshmen from Allentown, Pa., said. “Just to hang out, like on South Street, is fun.”
“I wanted to come to a big city,” Guy Cousins, a freshman majoring in business law from Richmond, Va., said. “Richmond is a city, but it’s not anywhere near the same type of city. Philly has everything going on, (and) is real busy.”
Maxey agrees that Temple’s location has helped, as recent enrollment in all urban colleges has risen slightly.
“We’ve just been real fortunate,” Maxey said. “Students now seek out diversity, and Temple has always offered that.”