Record numbers of Hispanic and African-American students are expected to attend Texas A&M University this fall as part of the largest freshman class in the university’s 132-year history, according to projections released today by the Office of Admissions.
Confirmations for Hispanic students have increased 20 percent, or by 232 students, in comparison to this date a year ago for a total of 1,371. For African-American students, confirmations have increased 19 percent, or by 49 students, for a total of 303.
“These numbers reflect a university-wide effort and represent significant strides that have been made in attracting underrepresented students to Texas A&M,” said Dr. Elsa A. Murano, who was named the university’s first Hispanic and first female president in January.
“While Texas A&M is a welcoming place for underrepresented students, we are not where we need to be from an overall enrollment standpoint. Our commitment is to expand our Hispanic and African-American student populations even further as part of our land-grant mission for the state of Texas .”
Overall enrollment in the fall 2008 freshman class is expected to top 8,200 students, an increase of about 100 students in comparison to last fall. Texas A&M officials anticipate that about 25 percent of the freshman class will again be first-generation college students, while about half of the incoming freshmen will represent the top 10 percent of their respective high schools, a slight increase over a year ago.
“We believe these numbers indicate that Texas A&M continues to be affordable and accessible for students across the state and a tremendous value as a ‘tier one’ research institution,” President Murano said. “We are ever-mindful, however, of the increasing financial burden on students and their families to attend Texas A&M, and are continually looking for ways to enhance efficiencies and decrease costs on our campus.”
Murano noted that the lowest tuition and fee increase at Texas A&M since 1999 was approved by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in March. In addition to expanding the university’s scholarships, Murano plans to work with members of the Texas Legislature to increase the state’s investment in higher education and research in preparation for the upcoming session in January.
“Attracting top students to Texas A&M has become extremely competitive, particularly for underrepresented students,” Murano said. “There is a small number of Hispanic and African-American high school students in our state who actually take the college entrance exams, and an even smaller number – only about 6,000 – who score at or above the criterion established by the Texas Education Agency.”
Murano attributes the increases in the number of underrepresented students applying for and being admitted to Texas A&M to several factors, including more aggressive and personal attention in the recruiting process both on-campus and through the university’s eight Prospective Student Centers, additional financial aid and the work of Texas A&M’s Hispanic Network and Black Former Student Network.
“The results to date are very encouraging,” Murano said. “We can’t be overly confident, however, until the students attend our freshmen orientation sessions this summer and actually start classes this fall.”
Enrollment figures for the fall semester will not become official until after the 20th class day.
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