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ASU student body bigger and brighter as fall classes begin

August 15, 2018

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

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

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


NASA Psyche space mission seeking undergraduates to help inspire the public

August 15, 2018

Beginning this month, the Arizona State University-led NASA Psyche Mission is expanding its innovative “Psyche Inspired” arts program to the national stage, inviting undergraduate students from universities and community colleges throughout the U.S. and its territories to apply to become one of the space mission’s featured creatives, or “Psyche Inspired Interns,” for the 2018-19 academic year.   

The goal of Psyche Inspired is to share the excitement, innovation and scientific and engineering content of NASA’s Psyche Mission through artistic and creative works. Students who were selected for the 2017-18 program created artistic and creative pieces including original compositions for piano, sculptures, painting, 3D models, photography, acrylic art, needlepoint, stop-motion films and mixed media — all inspired by the NASA Psyche Mission. Psyche Inspired art "Psyche Pop" - An eight panel Andy Warhol/pop art-inspired drawing of Psyche in orbit created by 2017-18 Psyche Inspired intern Morgan Baerwaldt. Download Full Image

The Psyche Inspired program is open to all majors, from the arts to engineering and beyond. Previous Psyche Inspired interns have majored in astrobiology, biogeosciences, ceramics, computer science, digital culture, drawing, electrical engineering, engineering management, English, geology, graphic design, materials science, music, painting and sculpture.

Students in the program also have the freedom to collaborate and explore different genres and media, as long as it adheres to scientific accuracy. Throughout the internship, students learn about the Psyche mission by talking to mission scientists and staff. Interns also meet in person or virtually to talk about their projects, ask questions, receive feedback and collaborate.

Caralie Cedarleaf, a 2017-18 Psyche Inspired intern and ASU senior majoring in sculpture, said of her participation in the program, “I've noticed a change in how I relate to projects that are bigger than just one person. Before, I was hesitant to get involved in things, fearful that I didn't have enough to offer. Now, I engage with new opportunities with my assets and skills in mind, not worried about what I'm lacking. I've become bold.”

Each Psyche Inspired intern selected for the 2018-19 program is expected to create at least one original creative work every two months, for a total of four works throughout the school year. In the spring, these works will be curated into a show on the ASU Tempe campus and online, as well as incorporated into a coffee-table book.

The deadline for applications is Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. PST.

MORE: Psyche Inspired application

Up to 16 interns will be selected for the 2018-19 academic year: up to 10 interns from institutions nationwide and up to six from ASU. If selected for the program, students will be supplied with a stipend of $250 to purchase materials, such as art supplies, computer software and crafting materials needed to create their works. Selections for the 2018-19 academic year will be announced on Sept. 14. 

Selection criteria includes the quality and originality of sample work submitted, as well as responses to interview questions and references. The selection panel will also look to include the best and widest range of creative genres and presentation styles.

“Psyche Inspired is unique because it really is for everyone,” says the program’s student manager, Brooke Owen. “It has challenged students from different backgrounds and majors to create original works that explain complex topics. Then, those original works become great outreach tools that allow the public to understand, and feel more connected to, the Psyche mission and space exploration as a whole.”

The Psyche Mission

Psyche, an asteroid orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter, is made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal. As such, it offers a unique look into the violent collisions that created Earth and the terrestrial planets.

The Psyche spacecraft is targeted to launch in August 2022 and travel to the asteroid using solar-electric (low-thrust) propulsion, arriving in 2026, following a Mars flyby and gravity-assist in 2023. After arrival, the mission plan calls for 21 months orbiting the asteroid, mapping it and studying its properties.

The scientific goals of the Psyche mission are to understand the building blocks of planet formation and explore firsthand a wholly new and unexplored type of world. The mission team seeks to determine whether Psyche is the core of an early planet, how old it is, whether it formed in similar ways to the Earth's core, and what its surface is like.

The spacecraft's instrument payload will include a magnetometer, a multispectral imager, and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer. The mission will use an X-band radio telecommunications system and will test a sophisticated new laser communications technology, called Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) that encodes data in photons.

The Psyche Mission is in NASA's Planetary Science Division’s Discovery Program. The Psyche Mission’s principal investigator, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, is the director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. In addition to Elkins-Tanton, ASU researchers on the Psyche mission team include Jim Bell (deputy principal investigator and co-investigator), David Williams (co-investigator) and Catherine Bowman (student collaborations lead).

The mission is led by Arizona State University. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations. The spacecraft’s solar-electric propulsion chassis will be built by SSL.

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration