The entering class included 600 students who weeded gardens and helped with other community service projects during Welcome Weekend.
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Drake University enrolled 924 first-year students this fall, which makes the entering class the largest since 1981 when there were 967 freshmen. The 2007-08 entering class is 18 percent larger than last year's class of 781.
"We are delighted that there is such a high level of interest in a Drake education," said Drake President David Maxwell. "Our preliminary research suggests that there are many reasons for this dramatic increase, from our national reputation for academic excellence and the quality of our faculty to Des Moines' attractiveness as a location. Our ongoing challenge is to manage this demand, because we have no aspirations to grow larger on the undergraduate level -- we know that our current size and sense of community are among our most important attributes."
The large entering class, combined with a major increase in graduate enrollment, brings Drake's total enrollment to 5,617, a 4.7 percent increase over 5,366 last year. Drake's total enrollment has climbed steadily over the past five years, increasing 8.8 percent since 2003, when there were a total of 5,164 students.
This fall, Drake has 3,202 full-time undergraduates, up 6.3 percent from 3,013 last fall. The number of graduate students rose 7.9 percent to 1,268 from 1,175 last fall.