As 8 a.m. approached on Friday, Aug. 18, the largest class in University of Dallas history arrived on campus for freshman orientation.
This year’s freshman orientation, led by seniors Mary Hinze, Thomas Cuda and Abby Knapp, carried the theme “Exceed Expectations” which the class of 2021 did from the moment they stepped on the Mall.
During orientation, the freshman class reached out to local homeless people through the Social Justice Project, which involved the students putting together care packages and distributing them to a homeless shelter.
Several members of the class said that community is what makes UD special, so they came together to give back to their community.
The class of 2021 has 426 students, exceeding the second-largest class, 393 in 2019, by over 30 students.
Freshman Tim Peruzzi, believing in raised standards for the class of 2021, said, “It’s cool that we are the biggest class. We could exceed expectations [of UD] by creating more clubs or adding more prestige because we have the ability to reach out to more people.”
The freshman class is academically successful, with four perfect ACT scores compared to last year’s two perfect ACT scores. They also have the highest average high school GPA of 3.83 compared to previous years.
However, the class of 2021 has just five National Merit Finalists compared to the class of 2020’s 11 and the class of 2019’s 15.
Meanwhile, nearly 25 percent of the class has joined an athletic team, also a record.
Because the class is so large, the freshman dorms do not have the capacity to house everyone. Some freshmen found themselves in Clark Hall doubles as a result.
Freshman Maddie Scherrer said she believes the class of 2021 will face other challenges due to their size. “I feel like there’s going to be greater expectations for us,” she said.
Brenda Gomez, a sophomore transfer student from California, said that the community was one of the most important things for her at UD.
“The first day I moved in, I already felt like I was home,” Gomez said.
Gomez, however. expressed her concern about the university becoming too large.
“I think if UD keeps admitting more and more students … it would take away from the community and [UD] would lose the sense of wh[at] I came here for: community,” Gomez said. “It’s intimate in a way, and that’s why I came here.”
Freshman Jasmine Adams placed the class size in a positive light, explaining that UD is receiving more publicity for its reputation.
“[Class size] has something to say about the university,” Adams said. “It keeps growing and more people are hearing about it.”
Gomez had additional reasons for choosing UD.
“In high school, I was never challenged. I was never pushed past my own expectations,” Gomez said. “I know [UD] will challenge me, I know [UD] will push me past the limit and make me do more than I ever expected myself to do.”
During orientation, several freshmen shared a common reason they came to UD. In orientation small groups, the students expressed that they not only hope to succeed in academics, but also to grow to be authentically good people.
“As scared as I am, I am really excited,” Gomez said.