It’s a Record: 33,917 Students Enrolled at Mason

Posted: November 22, 2013 at 3:34 pm, Last Updated: December 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm

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By Michele McDonald

Students walk across the Fairfax campus.

Fall enrollment was the highest ever this year. Photo by Alexis Glenn

George Mason University is bustling this fall with a record number of incoming freshman and overall student enrollment, according to new data.

There are 3,011 first-time freshmen this fall, up from 2,694 in 2012, based on numbers from George Mason’s Institutional Research and Reporting. Of the first-time freshmen this year, 79.3 percent are from Virginia.

In total, fall 2013 enrollment increased to 33,917 students, up from 32,961 for the same time last year. There are more new faces on Mason’s campuses this fall — 10,250 new students, up from 9,562 for fall 2012. There are about 18,300 women compared to 15,550 men.

Victoria Mason

Freshman and Gates Millennium Scholar Victoria Mason is part of the record-breaking class. Photo by Evan Cantwell

“My first few weeks were a bit overwhelming,” says Victoria Mason, a freshman Honors College student, who’s a Gates Millennium Scholar, as the new class heads into Thanksgiving, their first finals and winter break. “It was an adjustment, but I met a lot of new friends. I think the first semester was a bit more difficult than I expected.”

Desmond Moffitt has one piece of advice for the record number of incoming freshmen this year: breathe.

“Take a step back and breathe,” says Moffitt, also a new Honors College student and Gates Scholar. The prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship was awarded to 1,000 students this year and can be used at any university in the country.

Enrollment growth ties into Mason’s strategic plan to have 100,000 graduates in the next decade, says Wayne Sigler, vice president for Enrollment Management. “Continued growth in our enrollment is a significant priority for Mason for several reasons,” he says. “One reason is we want to continue to provide appropriate access to Mason’s quality education for students in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Another reason is we are a major economic engine in the commonwealth, and it’s important that we continue to enroll academically strong students and help move them into the workforce.”

Sigler also points out that the university is adding students while maintaining admission standards.

graphic chart showing enrollment increase

Graphic by Marcia Staimer

Student retention and timely graduations are major goals of the university. For more information about Mason’s student retention strategies, please read “New Offerings for Students and Advisors Aim to Increase Retention, Success Rates.”

Students are behind those numbers and plans. With books on the table before her while she works on a research project, Honors College student Aleksa Kirsteins says she’s enjoying the coursework. “I didn’t realize it was going to be that much fun,” she says of her research paper that’s looking at the film noir elements in the TV show “Supernatural.”

Now that her first semester is drawing to a close, Kirsteins is looking ahead. She was torn between pursuing medical school or a degree in international policy. She’s switching to biology.

And the university encourages academic exploration, says Victoria Mason. “I came in as a chemistry major but I wasn’t feeling it,” she says with a smile. So now Mason is investigating public health and epidemiology.

Mason advises that students get to know their professors and find out those office hours. “I learned when to reach out to my professors,” she says.

Joining clubs can help push students out of their dorm rooms and ease the transition from high school to college. “I would encourage new students to be active,” says Mason, who would like to study abroad in Spain while at George Mason.

Moffitt loves how students can dive into topics, not just skim the surface.

And, like other new students, he’s still tinkering with his major. He’s a history major but recently switched his minor to dance from philosophy. “If you’re going to try something new at any time in your life, this is the time,” Moffitt says.

But Moffitt knows his destination and how the university can help; he wants to become a teacher because teachers have played such a memorable role in his life. “I love being in the Honors College,” Moffitt says. “I don’t feel as scrambled. I feel there’s a path.”

Write to Michele McDonald at mmcdon15@gmu.edu

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