CU-Boulder Freshman Class is Largest in CU-Boulder History; Overall Enrollment Up 2.5 Percent with Significant Minority Enrollment Gains

Published: Sept. 18, 2008

The University of Colorado at Boulder welcomed a record-setting freshman class this fall, and in the process achieved the largest, most diverse and most academically qualified class in its history. Fall 2008 census figures show that overall enrollment at CU-Boulder also reached an all-time high, with 29,709 degree-seeking students, 721 more than last year's previous record, an increase of 2.5 percent.

CU-Boulder's fall census showed the campus enrolled 5,833 students this semester, 216 students more than 2006's previous record-setting freshman class of 5,617 and 278 more than last fall's 5,555.

Among the new freshmen, 931 are students of color, an all-time high, 47 more than the previous high of 884 in 2006, and 60 more than last fall. Students of color constitute 16 percent of freshmen, the same percentage as 2006 and 2007, equaling the highest level of ethnic diversity ever.

Most ethnic group numbers are similar to last fall, with the exception of Hispanic/Latinos, where there was an increase of 61 new freshmen (17 percent) and 49 total undergraduates compared to 2007. African American students increased about 8 percent among new freshmen and all undergraduates. In the new freshman class, there are 369 Asian-Americans, 110 African-Americans, 417 Hispanic/Latinos, and 35 Native Americans. The number of freshmen choosing not to indicate their ethnic group also increased, from 193 in 2007 to 265 this fall. A total of 3,732 undergraduates self-report as students of color.

"We are delighted at the gains we're making here regarding ethnic diversity," said CU-Boulder Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson. "We've made these gains while being more selective in our admissions, an accomplishment I am quite proud of."

Gender balance and numbers of first-generation college students also reflect diversity. The numbers of females and males in the new freshman class are almost exactly the same, with 2,901 females and 2,933 males. The percentage of females is slightly higher than last year, 49.7 compared to 49.3. This year's female percentage is the highest since 2003 and the second highest since 1999, when the percentage of female freshmen reached 50.6.

The number of first-generation college students fell slightly from 2007, with 899 compared to 961 last fall. The percentage of first-generation students among freshmen fell from 17 percent to 15 percent.

"I think these demographics demonstrate that our working together to achieve inclusive excellence is beginning to show real results," said Sallye McKee, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and community engagement. "Coloradoans of all backgrounds can take heart that our flagship university is making real strides toward representing the ethnic and cultural diversity of Colorado in its newest class."

Although the freshman class is the largest ever, a record number of applications - 22,847, 10 percent more than the previous 2003 record of 20,813 - meant that CU admissions officials could be more selective in admissions than last year.

Accordingly, the freshman class is the most academically qualified ever, as measured by average high school rank, high school grades, CCHE index scores, SAT scores, and ACT scores, all of which set new all-time highs, in most cases breaking records set just last year.

The average high school grade-point average is 3.57, average ACT composite score is 26.0, and average SAT total score is 1177. Each of these measures is an all-time high.

"Given that we are one of the most selective institutions in the state, we are succeeding in matching measured improvements in the academic rigor of our curriculum with increasingly selective, highly qualified freshmen classes," said CU-Boulder Provost Phil DiStefano.

Geographic diversity is strongly represented in the freshman class as well. New freshmen come from 1,711 different high schools, 237 in Colorado and 1,474 from other states or countries. Of the 5,833 new freshmen, 3,064 - or 53 percent - are Colorado residents, while 2,769 are non-residents. The increased size of the entering class is due entirely to higher than expected non-resident enrollments.

"We draw two conclusions from the data," said Chancellor Peterson. "One is that we are seeing significantly higher levels of non-resident commitments to enroll at CU-Boulder, and the other is that this pattern is proof that CU is firmly centered as a national, comprehensive research university with a strong reputation across the country and the world."

Psychology remains by far the most popular undergraduate major, with 1,788 students, followed by integrative physiology with 1,169. Other majors with more than 700 students include English; pre-journalism and mass communication; molecular, cellular and developmental biology; international affairs; economics; and finance.

Summing up, Peterson said CU-Boulder's enrollment census this year "is proof that we are attracting a talented pool of students we want from both Colorado and elsewhere. This new class is representative of the excellence and improvement we are experiencing across the University."

"This is truly historic progress," Peterson said.

Links to related CU-Boulder data from Office of Institutional Research:

Overall enrollment: Total degree-seeking vs. not degree-seeking, over time

By college: Degree-seeking only, by grad/undergrad and college, over time (students in two colleges are counted in both)

By new vs. continuing: Degree-seeking only, by grad/undergrad, residency, and new vs. continuing, over time

Details including diversity for fall 08 vs. fall 07, residency, college (first college only), all by degree-seeking vs. others

Most popular undergraduate majors

Enrollment since 1877

Academic preparation or qualifications of freshman applicants, admits, and matriculants over time