Bucknell Welcomes Massive First-Year Class for Fall Semester

Siobhan Nerz, Contributing Writer

University classes are back in session – and this year, the herd is bigger than ever. The largest first-year class in University history, the incoming class of 2025, brought a staggering 1,031 students to campus. 

The class size presented both an opportunity and challenge for the University, since “the Class of 2025 target was 1,000 [students],” according to Dean of Admissions Kevin Mathes. He noted that the pandemic made it difficult for the University to predict how accepted students would respond to offers of admission. 

According to Mathes, non-pandemic years have seen more students changing their minds over the summer by deciding to take a gap year, getting off the waitlist at another university, or changing their mind about attending college altogether. 

“In recent years, this has been between seven and nine percent of those planning to attend [the University] but this year it was about 4.5 percent,” Mathes said. “While we anticipate shifts in this percentage, it was much lower than we could have imagined.”

Despite these challenges for the admissions office, Mathes maintains an optimistic outlook, noting his gratefulness to his colleagues “who have been able to make sure the Class of 2025 has a great first year.”

In respect to how the University will handle future admissions, Lisa Keegan, Vice President of Enrollment Management said, “we were targeting 1,000 first-year students with a plan to grow the first-year class by no more than five students for the class of 2026.”

Keegan further explained that “Given the size of the class of 2025, we will reassess next year’s first-year class target as we seek to balance the larger class with our residential model.”

In response to the prospect of building new residence halls, Director of Media Relations Mike Ferlazzo described that “[t]here are currently no plans for new buildings to accommodate student housing, but that is subject to change as needs arise.”

Due to the increase in students, the university has already expanded first-year housing options to include Harris Hall, a residence hall without air conditioning. 

“Trying to survive without AC in this intense August heat is brutal,” first-year student Casey Scanlan ’25, a resident in Harris Hall, said.

However, despite the hot living conditions, Scanlan is enjoying bonding with her hall. Well after orientation, Scanlan and her hallmates “still do a lot of things together like getting food at the ELC, making runs to the bookstore or just sitting in the hall talking and laughing for hours.” 

Scanlan acknowledged that college is a time for the class of 2025 to have a much-needed change of scenery, after enduring a global pandemic during their senior year of high school. She believes the first-year students are “eager to bring excitement and energy back into our lives as we start our journey” at the University. 

Similarly, Junior Fellow for the Language and Cultures Residential College Puja Velani ’24 sees students adjusting to their lives at college. Velani expressed excitement for her residents, noting that “it’s amazing to see first-years making new and lasting friendships and connections.”

As a coordinator of first-year activities in her residential college, Velani observed that “whether it be collaboration in classes, clubs or residence halls, the class of 2025 shows a lot of promise to build a strong and supportive community and to excel and achieve great things at Bucknell and beyond.” 

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