INDIANAPOLIS—Despite a year of unexpected challenges in the college admissions world, Butler University is welcoming its third-largest class ever, with 1,128 first-year students planning to begin classes on August 24.
Butler has continued to experience a surge in interest and enrollment over the last five years. Last year’s Class of 2023 was previously the third-largest, topped by this new incoming group of students. The Class of 2022, now juniors, is the largest in the University’s history.
The Class of 2024 has been through a lot over the past six months. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many of them to finish high school online, cancel graduation celebrations, and navigate changes to AP and IB exams. These students are also starting their college experiences in a way that likely looks different from what they ever pictured, with the first two weeks of the semester occurring remotely. But even as they log on for their first day of classes, they are excited to be Bulldogs.
“I ultimately chose Butler because I got that ‘home’ feeling when thinking about the University,” says Marissa Flannery, an incoming student who had initially planned to attend college closer to her hometown of Fairport, New York. “I know there are people here who truly care about students and want success for all of us.”
Flannery says Butler’s relatively small size was a big factor in her decision, but not just for safety reasons during the course of the pandemic.
“You can’t walk into Butler and feel like a little fish in the ocean, or feel like there’s no one to notice if you need help with something,” she says. “The sense of community and family is undeniable, and that is my absolute favorite part of Butler.”
Flannery had the chance to visit campus multiple times before making her choice. While that wasn’t the case for some other prospective students, Vice President for Enrollment Management Lori Greene applauds the adaptability of Butler staff who adjusted quickly to a virtual environment.
“Butler already offered a virtual campus tour option,” Greene says, “so we were able to build upon that foundation by adding virtual counselor meetings and events for both individuals and groups. Our enrollment team, both the admission and financial aid staff members, worked diligently to meet the needs of prospective students by focusing on creative solutions for outreach and active follow up. Our biggest concern was working to provide support at a time of great uncertainty.”
Faculty members at Butler have also committed themselves to providing extra support for this group of new students. As the pandemic continued to surge in mid-May, the University announced it would offer a free online class to help incoming students learn about and reflect on the widespread impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. The one-credit-hour summer course was taught by a team of 14 faculty members from across the University, with more than 250 incoming students enrolled.
“We wanted to show our incoming students how current Butler students, faculty, and staff have really rallied to make the best of a very difficult situation,” says Anne Wilson, Professor of Chemistry and faculty lead for the online class. “This course offered an opportunity for incoming students to learn more about the Butler community while reflecting on what they have learned about their own adaptability and resilience.”
Many traditionally on-campus enrollment activities moved to virtual delivery this year. All incoming students completed course registration virtually this spring, and more than 130 students attended a virtual admitted student visit.
Despite the pressure of adjusting to a global pandemic, this incoming class is as academically strong as ever. The Class of 2024 includes 41 high school valedictorians, 23 Lilly Scholars, and 40 21st Century Scholars. Nearly 18 percent of the students graduated in the top 10 percent of their classes. The average high school GPA of the class is 3.92, one of the strongest in recent admission cycles. In addition, Butler will also welcome 66 transfer students.
The most popular majors among the incoming class include Exploratory Studies, Pre-Pharmacy, Exploratory Business, Biology, and Health Sciences.
Butler’s upward trend in out-of-state growth continues with this class. Incoming students represent 37 states and 13 countries, including Australia, Mexico, and South Korea. Out-of-state students make up 57 percent of the class, with significant populations from Illinois and the Chicagoland area, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Enrollment also increased in California, Texas, and Maryland.
One incoming Maryland student, Anisa Cobb, says she chose Butler for its nationally renowned Dance program. The Morton-Finney Scholar is also looking forward to exploring a wide variety of academic options.
“The great thing about Butler is that there are so many options that it’s possible to be involved in so many different things,” Cobb says.
Another out-of-state first-year student, Ashton Franklin, says he was drawn to Butler’s welcoming atmosphere. The Michigan native plans to major in Strategic Communication: Public Relations and Advertising, using what he learns to help others tell their stories.
“I really believe that the world can become a brighter place if we all try to understand one another,” Franklin says. “And by the time I graduate, I’m confident that I’ll be the very best version of myself because of the opportunities that Butler has given to me.”
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