New and smarter students

Jimmy Pyles

Freshmen Chelsea Freyberger didn’t know she was going to a part of the freshmen class with the highest academic scores USI has ever admitted when she enrolled.

The average SAT score for new freshmen is up 20 points from last year’s freshmen class and is up 43 points from the last three years combined. The Average high school grade point averages also are at a record high at 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.

“Being apart of the smartest freshmen class is really amazing,” Freyberger said. “We are part of something big.”

Freyberger is just one of the 1,876 first-time students to be enrolled for the fall semester. The enrollment is down 149 from last year’s record number.


“Knowing that I am a part of this class, it makes me feel like a better student,” said Freyberger. “I feel special because they’re not just accepting everyone. They accepted me because they want me here.”

In past years USI has enrolled 7 to 8 percent of students with conditional status. Conditional status is given to students who may not be as well prepared for a four-year university. Only 1.2 percent of the admits for the class of 2016 were conditional students.

“Part of the focus is that students are ready for college level work,” USI president Linda Bennett said. “The road for conditional status students is a more difficult. That doesn’t mean they can’t have success because they can and do, but its more challenging.” 

She said we are still an intuition for opportunity.

“We haven’t been an open-admissions university for a very long time,” Bennet said. “That seems to surprise people. The admission for conditional students has been declining for awhile.”

The university made a very focused decision to move this change quickly, she said

Freshmen enrollment has decresed by 3.3 percent in this year’s total enrollment of 10,467 students. The university set a record last year with 10,820 students, after growing since 2004.

“Growth in terms of enrollment is still part of our future,” Bennett said.  “It has been part of what had defined us in our past and will continue to be an important part of our future. We want to make sure that it is also growth that can lead to success and degree attainment.”