BLOOMINGTON — It’s back to school time and some college students are preparing for the first day back on campus. On the beautiful lime-stone campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, students are gearing up to return to in-person learning.
David Johnson the university’s Vice Provost of Enrollment Management said, “We are super excited to be welcoming them back to campus.”
His excitement is no understatement. It’s reflected in the data too.
“We had a 50% increase in academic scholarship offers to students that's, that was our strategy to really go strong at supporting students,” said Johnson.
In fact, IU Bloomington is expecting nearly 9,300 freshmen in this year’s fall class. That’s a record number and a 17% increase from the previous year’s enrollment.
That number comes from the university when it compares enrollment and housing deposits. So, WRTV asked, why is this undergraduate freshman class so big?
Johnson said, “The interest and returning to a more normal and typical college experience. The great value and experience at IU offers to students. And really, I think the test-optional admissions strategy also played into helping students think about IU if they felt like maybe their test scores didn't reflect their full academic ability.”
He said the academic ability of the incoming students didn’t dip during this pandemic either.
“Their GPA is, you know nearly equal to last year, which is a phenomenal statement given the challenges that they faced,” said Johnson.
Even with the challenges of remote learning, Johnson said, technology helped the school reach and recruit more students virtually.
That includes out-of-state students like Maddy Allen. “Every year has just been a golden year and lots of fun,” said Allen. She’s from Colorado and she said she’s looking forward to her senior year in-person.
Allen said, “I'm really excited to be back. I'm really excited to get more of that collaboration aspect in that camaraderie that you get in the classroom and I'm just really excited to see more smiley faces in person.”
Allen admits 2020 challenged all students, with a pandemic and its support and ‘Hoosier spirit’ that kept her going.
“It's definitely it was a change going from in-person classes to virtual classes, but the faculty was so understanding in there to help our students,” said Allen.
“Our faculty is absolutely amazing here. They really want to make sure that they're getting to know the students. There's also always something going on campus, the athletic games are insane. There is amazing pride at those, and there's amazing student organizations on that campus so you really can make some great connections on.”
Even though we’re still in a pandemic, Allen said she’s convinced the university prioritizes health safety.
“IU is doing a great job in making sure that students still feel safe on campus, while also going on to that next step, now that we're having all these vaccinations, we are getting back to some normalcy, so I think they're taking the right steps in the right direction,” said Allen.
Johnson said, “we have a terrific team of doctors that we are, you know, that are advising us and that we're listening to and we will be following their guidance.”
Doctor Johnson said he’s aware of the challenges students faced, mentally, and academically.
So, they plan to have counseling resources for students. He also said he knows it’s a fluid situation with the pandemic.
The first day of school for students at IU Bloomington is August 23rd. So far, the COVID policies and procedures include, returning to normal college activities; all IU Students, faculty, staff, and visitors must wear a mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status; and all students, faculty, and staff must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19, or have an approved exemption before returning to campus.
It’s through a self-reported process and being full vaccinated means that two weeks have passed after having all doses of a vaccine.
Allowed exemptions include religious exemptions, ethical exemptions, and medical exemptions. You might want to note though that these policies can change, as the university consistently follows CDC guidelines.
To see COVID policies for some other universities in our area click here.