Freshmen in a class all their own
The members of the Temple’s Class of 2009
have the best academic credentials ever
|Three members of Temple’s incoming freshman class — from left, Ayana Bey of Mullica Hill, N.J., and Dante Frangipani and Kimberly Andrews, both of Philadelphia — took some time to explore campus last week after attending student advising sessions, signing up for classes and having their TUid photos taken.
It may not be obvious at first glance, but Brandi Dyer and Kyle Uhlman — two of the estimated 3,950 freshmen arriving at Temple this week — have a lot in common.
They’re both 18.
They both have SAT scores well over 1200 and high school GPAs approaching 3.8, helping to make their class the most academically qualified ever to come to campus.
And like many of their classmates, they’re shattering conventional wisdom about people who choose to attend Temple.
Dyer, an African-American broadcasting major from rural Millersville, Md. (“I live just off Hog Farm Road,” she says), liked Temple so much that she picked it over the University of Pittsburgh — a coup, considering that Pitt had trumped Temple’s financial aid package by offering her a free ride.
Uhlman, a history major from Butler, an old steel town in western Pennsylvania that he describes as “white, Protestant and generic,” picked Temple over 11 other schools, including Tulane and Boston University.
What drew two gifted high school students who grew up in small towns to Temple?
“The biggest reason is it’s urban,” Uhlman said, “as urban as you can get. And I liked the diversity of the campus.”
Dyer agrees. “I just feel comfortable in Philadelphia; the city has so much to offer,” she said. “And my dorm is extremely diverse — it’s like the United Nations.”
Temple’s urban appeal, particularly to students who live relatively far from Philadelphia, is fueling an unprecedented surge in applications and an increase in the student body’s academic credentials and geographic diversity.
“We received 17,200 freshman applications and 4,500 transfer applications, an all-time record,” said Timm Rinehart, associate vice president for enrollment management.
The academic credentials of applicants is also on the rise.
“This year we had 40 percent more applicants with SATs above 1200 than in 2002,” Rinehart said. “Among the estimated 3,950 freshmen who enrolled, the average SAT score jumped to 1099 — 73 points above the national average — and the average GPA rose to 3.3.”
The average SAT score of new students at Temple has increased 62 points in five years, and the average high school GPA has gone up 2 1/2 points in just two years. Nearly 25 percent more new students will join Dyer and Uhlman in Temple’s Honors program this fall.
According to Rinehart, Dyer and Uhlman also represent an important geographic trend. About half of this year’s new students are from somewhere outside Philadelphia and its suburbs. In 1998, less than a third were from outside the metropolitan area.
“The geographic diversity of recent classes is clear evidence that Temple is increasingly becoming regional, and even national, in scope” Rinehart said.
This year’s freshman class is also more ethnically and culturally diverse than last year’s. Of the estimated 3,950 freshmen, about 700 are African American (6 percent more than last year), 440 are Asian (10 percent more) and 150 are Hispanic (15 percent more).
“Temple’s new students — a group with strong academic credentials representing a very broad range of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds — will play an important role in the continuing growth of the University,” President David Adamany said. “They come to Temple with great expectations. We look forward to the challenge of helping them live up to their potential.”
In a planned move, the total number of new students will not be increasing in ’05–’06. Although construction of on-campus and off-campus living quarters has exploded in recent years, demand created by increasing enrollment had pushed housing resources to the limit.
This fall, all incoming freshmen who applied for housing received it, and are guaranteed on-campus housing for two years.
That was great news to Kyle Uhlman.
“Temple’s dorms were the nicest I had seen in all my campus visits,” Uhlman said, “and considering that Temple’s tuition rate was the lowest of the schools I was thinking about, I was pretty impressed.”
- By Hillel J. Hoffmann