Sometimes, size really does matter. On any given day, a quick scan of Daly’s during the lunch rush between 12:30 and 1:10 p.m. will reveal the exponential growth Rider has had over the last few years. By the amount of available parking and the rising number of students desiring to live on campus, one can see the obvious signs of the University’s development. We are practically bulging at the seams.
Even though freshman applications for the fall 2007 semester are up by 24 percent compared to this time last year, the University administration is promising the student-centeredness will remain intact. After all, many prospective students come to Rider knowing they will have the opportunity to stand out as individuals. Contrast this to other larger institutions that have thousands upon thousands of undergraduates. How can one student be anything more than a number? Fortunately, Rider has realized the risk of losing its long-established identity before it’s too late.
So, many of us came here for the small class sizes and for the 13-to-1 student to faculty ratio. We pay hefty tuition for the personalized attention of our professors. But, the enlargement of the University would ultimately put us on a collision course. The Statement of Community Values articulates “that no person roams these halls as a stranger.” Admitting more and more hall roamers into Rider would fundamentally change the dynamic community atmosphere that prevails.
In light of this, 10 fewer students will be admitted this year. The Class of 2011 will have 890 students, compared to the 900 who entered in the fall 2006 semester. While it’s easy to naïvely mistake this decrease as the beginning of a downward spiral, the University in fact stands to reap significant benefits.
The talent and caliber of the student body will reach new heights. Better yet, the incoming class is representative of 33 states and 12 countries, giving us a chance to bridge our diversity and learn more from each other.
In considering the increased number of applications, one has to recognize the changing times. It was not long ago when students only applied to a handful of colleges and universities. Different requirements between many colleges and universities forced many students to apply to only a select number of schools. Nowadays, high school seniors are using the common applications recognized by some 290 institutions to apply to up to a dozen schools. Better yet, this gives students the chance to apply not only to their safety-net choices, but also to their dream schools.
Technology has certainly made it even easier for us millennials. Instead of having to fill out all the paperwork by hand and trek to the post office for the 39-cent postage, students now have the luxury of being able to apply online. The numbers don’t lie. According to a Feb. 2006 USA Today article, “The number of Common Applications filed online has skyrocketed from just under 41,000 in 2000-01 to a predicted 700,000” in 2006-2007.
Be that as it may, you may find yourself asking, “What does this all mean?” In the end, this new trend of selectivity will enhance the reputation of Rider and establish a positive path for the future. More than anything else, this will make all of us a little more proud to call Rider our alma mater.