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ASU student body bigger and brighter as fall classes begin

55 percent of incoming freshman class are winners of top merit-based scholarships

August 15, 2018

As the big envelopes started filling up Morgan Sansone’s mailbox, her decision about where to go to college was getting seemingly harder: University of California, San Diego; University of California, Riverside; University of California, Davis; Occidental; University of Arizona. All good schools that wanted her. And a good problem for the Basis Flagstaff graduate to have.

As it turned out, her decision was actually easy: She wanted to attend Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University. So that’s what she’s doing, officially starting classes Thursday.

“I aspire to attend law school and hold the belief that Barrett will be the ultimate stepping-stone for future success,” said Sansone, who is majoring in economics with a concentration in politics. “… ASU made the most sense for me not only economically but because Barrett students have much higher rates of success when pursuing higher education such as law school.”

Sansone also earned a President’s Award, one of the top scholarships recognizing academic excellence.

She’s not alone. Sansone is part of a freshman class of more than 12,700 that is not only the largest ever at ASU but also is the most academically talented — with 59 percent of in-state students receiving one of the university's top three academic scholarships, collectively called the New American University Scholarships.

Among the entire entering class — in- and out-of-state — about 55 percent earned one of those scholarships. The incoming class is also stronger in another academic marker compared with previous classes: Its average SAT score is higher — 1210 compared with 1190.

The total number of ASU students — on campus and online — for fall 2018 is about 109,500, about 8 percent more than last year. On campus, there are about 73,000 — about 61,000 undergraduates and about 12,000 graduate students. ASU Online has about 36,300 students — 22 percent more than a year ago; about 7,000 of those are from Arizona, and the rest are from out of state or international.

ASU's First-Year Success Center offers a variety of coaching services. Video by Jamie Ell/ASU Now

Other highlights of the incoming group of freshmen include:

  • The 12,700 first-time freshmen represent a 12 percent increase over fall 2017, an increase of about 1,300 freshmen.
  • Sixty-two percent of the class, or 7,900 students, is from Arizona.
  • The number of first-time freshmen at the ASU West campus, 745, is a 24 percent increase over last fall.
  • There are nearly 1,400 freshmen from California in the class, a 36 percent increase.
  • Some 45.5 percent of the freshman class comes from minority backgrounds, representing the most diverse freshman class in ASU history.

“The ASU mission embraces both access and excellence — and that is shown in our student body growing in both number and quality,” said ASU Executive Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle. “We’re excited to see what the school year holds as we welcome the newest group of innovative, creative minds to the educational community.”

Alexa Alvarez, a graduate of San Luis High School in western Arizona, was all set to attend the University of Arizona but changed her mind when she received merit- and need-based scholarships to ASU.

“The programs here seemed to have more success, and the campus life seemed more exciting and also it’s closer to home,” said Alvarez, who is majoring in psychology at the West campus. She received a Provost’s Award, among other merit-based grants, and a need-based Obama Scholarship Program Award.

Jeffrey Horst, who is from California, chose ASU for the sports journalism program in the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He originally had a list of 10 universities that he winnowed down to four: ASU, the University of Arizona, the University of Southern California and Gonzaga.

“My first visit to the Downtown Phoenix campus immediately sold me,” said Horst, who graduated from Maranatha Christian Schools in San Diego.

“Being in the heart of downtown, close to all of the major sports teams, and the opportunities Cronkite offered made it my clear front-runner.”

Journalism senior Angelica Cabral (striped shirt) chats with interdisciplinary studies senior Alexis Moore (right) on Hayden Lawn on the Tempe campus Wednesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

The Cronkite School has sent a team of student reporters abroad to cover the last two Summer Olympics, and Horst is hoping to get a chance to go to Tokyo in 2020.

“The fact that they send a team to cover the Summer Olympics every time it comes around drew me in instantly,” said Horst, who won a Provost’s Award.

“I love watching, photographing, writing and analyzing basically every level of the sport from high school and up.”

Horst is also in Barrett, which will see more than 2,000 new students this week. It’s one of the few honors programs in the country that includes students in all majors on multiple campuses.

Here are some other facts about ASU students this fall:

  • There are about 5,150 new transfer students on campus this fall — a 6.4 percent increase over last fall.
  • The Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU, which begins a new era on the Downtown Phoenix campus this fall, has 730 total students, about 20 percent more than last year. That figure includes about 200 undergraduates.
  • There are 6,837 active-duty and veteran students enrolled at ASU campuses and ASU Online, an increase of 18 percent over last year.
  • The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law welcomes a record-setting class with a median GPA of 3.76 and a median LSAT score of 163.

Top photos: Students walk along Palm Walk on the ASU Tempe campus Wednesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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