Baylor expects to admit smaller freshman class next fall

After the past few years of taking larger freshman classes, Baylor plans on accepting fewer students next year. Grace Fortier | Photographer

By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer

After two straight years of record-breaking freshman class enrollments, Baylor is now expecting to admit a smaller number of students for the class of 2026.

In fall 2021, a record 4,200 freshmen enrolled at Baylor, up from the previous record of 3,700 set in fall 2020. Mary Herridge, senior director of undergraduate admissions, said that the typical class size Baylor admits is around 3,300 to 3,600 students but that many factors influence how many students Baylor accepts, including the number of students graduating or studying abroad. Herridge said a strong demand and enthusiasm for Baylor led to the school admitting more students than usual.

Herridge said after two straight record-breaking classes, Baylor is targeting a smaller number for acceptance in order to even out the number of students on campus and because Baylor has no “long-term goals” to increase the overall student population.

Herridge said the university is aiming to accept the typical class size of around 3,300 to 3,600 students.

“The overall goal for Baylor is to provide a transformational undergraduate experience with high personal attention for faculty and the residential experience,” Herridge said. “We are coming off of two years of enrolling a larger class, so this year, I think it’s natural that we would be expecting and targeting a smaller class size. We’d like to get back down to a more stable size for Baylor.”

Herridge said after the university realized how large this year’s freshman class was going to be, everyone on campus came together to plan accommodations for the larger number of students.

Dr. Nathan Shelburne, director of New Student Programs (NSP) said NSP added additional orientation and Line Camp sessions in order to accommodate the larger number of students.

“We saw about 3,000 students come to Baylor Line Camp this year,” Shelburne said. “The most we’ve ever had in a prior year was about 2,300, so a pretty significant jump this past summer from what we’ve typically done.”

Shelburne said NSP created a one-day program called Kickstart for students who could not attend orientation or Line Camp to meet other students. He said NSP also enhanced January’s Welcome Weekend program for freshmen who chose to defer to spring 2022 by adding additional experiences, including a trip to Independence — the original site of Baylor’s campus — to receive their Baylor Line jerseys.

Shelburne said in addition to having to accommodate more students, NSP also had to consider COVID-19 precautions while planning.

“We had those two competing forces in some ways,” Shelburne said. “Some of the things that become really practical considerations for orientation and Line Camp are spaces, the actual physical rooms. Because of the constraints related to COVID, we needed to decrease the capacity for rooms. We also needed to limit the number of guests that can come to orientation. We had a pretty significant increase in costs as well, related to food, transportation, a lot of the supplies that it takes to make Baylor Line Camp happen.”

Shelburne said NSP has increased the number of sessions for both orientation and Line Camp for the upcoming summer in order to offer more flexibility and space for students.

Herridge said Baylor has continued to see a high demand from prospective students.

“The pandemic has disrupted every single thing about life and society; it also disrupted the college admission process and student behavior,” Herridge said. “For fall 2021, students were so hungry for the traditional college experience, and Baylor provides that. Baylor’s reputation and brand, nationally and globally, it’s incredibly strong. So yet again, we’re seeing that in our application volume for the fall of 2022, a lot of students from all across the US and the world are super excited about a Baylor education. It’s a really amazing place to be.”