Kent State welcomes biggest, smartest freshmen class yet

Alyse Rohloff

Paige Morgridge was accepted to nine universities around the United States, including Kent State. Though she had many options outside of her home in Maine, she felt that something was calling her to Kent State.

“Around Kent is like super homey. It reminds me of Maine actually,” said Morgridge, who is majoring in public health with a concentration in global health.

This fall, Morgridge will be joining Kent State’s largest and highest-achieving freshmen class ever.This class has an average cumulative GPA of 3.36 and an average ACT score of 23, and about 13,000 new students were accepted to Kent State, with a goal of 4,250 freshmen actually attending Kent State.

Kent State has seen a larger and higher-achieving class every year for the last six years, which stems from the work of the offices of admissions and enrollment management, said T. David Garcia, associate vice president for enrollment management.

“Six years ago, when I first came to Kent State…we really drew up a plan of strategy that would help us meet our goals of diversity, quality and quantity,” Garcia said. “President (Lester) Lefton, at that time, really put emphasis of the quality. He wanted a better student, stronger GPA, stronger test score.”

Incoming freshmen like Jacob Tabler, who had a 3.72 cumulative high school GPA, is an example of one of these higher-achieving students. Tabler, who attended Lima Central Catholic, was not sure he wanted to apply because he did not know much about Kent.

“Honestly (once I took a tour), I loved the place,” Tabler said. “It was like a big school, but it felt like a small school to me. All the services they offered and all these benefits that were there, I’m like, ‘This is definitely one of my top schools.’”

When the university is determining which students to accept, the admissions office is looking at students’ high school transcripts, ACT or SAT score and high school grades, said director of admissions Nancy DellaVecchia.

“If you can validate that you can do the work through your transcript, that test score may not have as much of an impact, but it depends how drastic the difference is,” she said. “And what you have to remember is, we’re admitting students on a space available basis…maybe we’ll ask you to send us more information.”

Garcia said although enrollment is up at the university, the number of applications has been down for the past two years.

“It’s not about getting more applications; it’s what you do with this applications,” Garcia said. “But what that means is a better quality student is applying. So the (students) that won’t get admitted, they’re now being told, ‘Don’t apply to Kent State.’”

It shows students who are serious about higher education are the ones who are applying, Garcia said.

“It’s exciting because maybe there won’t be as many kids that are like, just going to college…(the students) that spend a bunch of money and don’t get anything out of it,” Morgridge said.

Having a freshmen class larger than the previous one for the last six years means it is becoming more difficult to house all these new students.

Jill Church, director of Residence Services, said the number of freshmen living on campus has increased from 77 percent to 84 percent over the last few years.

Residence Services houses students on a first-come, first-served basis, Church said. Those who are accepted early will have a bed on campus, but it depends on how many beds are left for those who are accepted later on.

She said Residence Services also relies on a melt when students who originally decided to live on-campus end up living off-campus or at home, freeing up beds on campus.

“The incoming class is stronger and stronger, (and) Kent State is more selective than it has ever been,” Church said. “So that melt that we always count on, for housing, might not happen anymore. So students might not cancel like we think.”

Bella Grossi, an incoming freshman public relations major from Perry High School, said one reason she chose Kent over other Ohio schools was because of the care and attention she received during the admissions process. She said everyone she talked to was willing to help her get the answers she needed.

“I definitely wanted to go to a school that was working toward a goal,” Grossi said. “It definitely feels like you’re a part of something that’s not just stagnant but continually progressing.”

Contact Alyse Rohloff at [email protected].