Texas A&M welcomed its largest ever freshman class this school year partly due to planned growth in some colleges but also because more students accepted offers this year than expected.
Data from the first day of classes shows that there are 72,982 students spread across the the main campus in College Station, the Higher Education Center at McAllen, remote Engineering Academy sites, the branch campuses in Galveston and Doha, Qatar, the Law School in Fort Worth and all locations of the Health Science Center. The freshman class alone includes 12,459 of which 11,464 are part of the main campus. The university’s main campus figures include 254 students from the McAllen Higher Education Center, of which 140 are freshmen, according to an A&M press release.
The official census date for the fall semester was Tuesday, the twelfth class day; however, the university will report its official enrollment figures after the 20th class day, Sept. 24.
Kelly Brown, associate vice president for marketing and communications for Texas A&M, explained the extra eight days allowed by the state gives the university time to finalize the numbers and ensure all students enrolled on the 12th class day have made payments or signed up for a payment plan. Classes for students who have not made payments or established a payment plan will be canceled for non-payment.
This year’s first day of class numbers represent a fall enrollment increase of 2.6% from last year’s official totals, the press release states.
Joseph Pettibon, vice president for enrollment and academic services, said that as more Texans show an interest in an A&M degree the university has been able to meet that demand.
“In some respects the number of students that apply to A&M continues to increase year over year,” Pettibon said. “And as that number has increased, we’ve also been able to continue to provide that opportunity to more students.”
Planned growth of freshmen in the College of Engineering and the Mays Business School accounts for a good portion of this year’s increase.
Pettibon noted that for nearly a decade now the College of Engineering has been aiming to have 25,000 engineering students by the year 2025. He also said that business is one of the majors in the highest demand so officials decided to increase the number of freshmen they were enrolling since the school had the capacity “to teach a slightly larger number of students.”
“We’re not trying to grow enrollment dramatically or anything like that,” Pettibon explained. “But the intent is targeted and planned growth in some areas.”
Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Education & Human Development, and Liberal Arts all saw growth, too, largely because more students accepted offers than anticipated.
The A&M press release states that there were some degree programs expanded from only being offered in College Station to being available in other locations, too.
Chad Wootton, A&M associate vice president for external affairs, talked in 2019 about A&M’s desire to control the school’s freshman class growth saying at the time that the increases seen in the prior decade were not sustainable.
Pettibon said that the school’s new Innovative Learning Classroom Building that opened last year gives the school some additional capacity on campus. He said another building will soon open on the west side of campus that will include a chemistry lab, architecture studio and classroom spaces.
Some of the increase in total enrollment this year, Pettibon said, is due to jumps in graduate student numbers which is something the school has long wanted to grow.
Pettibon said the university has conversations with the cities of Bryan and College Station to discuss campus growth. He said that the school is constantly evaluating what A&M’s capacity is and what enrollment should be.