Xavier students help move a freshman's flat-screen TV and other essentials into her dorm room. 
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Freshman David Croft, posing with his dad, Tom, hopes to land a spot on Xavier's men's basketball team as a walk-on.
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Braden McCauley, right, with his dad, Pat, chose Xavier over regional rivals, drawn to its campus size and proximity to home in Villa Hills, Ky.
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Greg Meyer, assistant director of XU's physical plant, and Dr. Mark Meyers, dean of the college of social sciences, health and education, volunteered to haul incoming freshmen's belongings into their dorm rooms as part of the "move crew."
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Victoria Owens, displaying pride in her hometown of Breezy Point, in Queens, New York, was psyched to join Xavier after choosing it over schools in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the Northeast. 
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Xavier's freshmen stand at head of the class

Enrollment up by 20 percent

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CINCINNATI - Xavier University’s outsized freshmen class grew the fastest among Tri-State colleges and universities in a year that also saw record enrollment at University of Cincinnati and a big gain for Northern Kentucky University.

Xavier expects a freshmen class of 1,309 students, a 20 percent increase over last year’s freshmen class.

College enrollment counts  are considered preliminary and subject to fluctuate before the final student census in mid-September.

Xavier President Michael Graham said the enrollment boom had little or nothing to do with XU entering the high-profile Big East athletic conference this fall, given that the conference switch occurred after most prospective students had made their choice.

PHOTOS: Xavier, UC freshmen move in: http://bit.ly/16xzkcO

Rather, he attributes the increase to a regional recruiting system that started five years ago that has recruiters in Denver, Boston and Chicago.

Terry Richards, vice president for enrollment management at Xavier, pointed to numbers as evidence. Xavier’s enrollment  from western states jumped to 65 students this year from 10 to 15 before Denver-based recruiter was hired. Enrollment from Chicago and thereabouts ballooned to 110 students from 15 to 20 in pre-recruiter years. Boston's recruiter has helped bump enrollment from the northeast and mid-Atlantic states to 119 students from 67 in 2007.

“The key point is that national recruitment through regional recruitment efforts now accounts for about 25 percent of the entering freshman class for fall 2013,” Richards said. He said Xavier is building on that success by hiring another recruiter who will likely be based in southern California.

This fall's enrollment, Graham said, is also buoyed by a lackluster 2012 class, due to negative press tied to the on-court brawl during the Crosstown Shootout game in 2011 between the Musketeers and the University of Cincinnati Bearcats in 2011.

New Class Moves In

The freshmen class spent much of Wednesday moving into Xavier’s dorms amid a festive atmosphere that included a giant inflated Musketeer mascot and neon-shirted “move crews,” of volunteer students, faculty and campus workers.

“I liked the school size and the campus feel and the loving atmosphere here,” said David Croft, an 18-year-old freshmen from Cleveland, who also considered Marquette and John Carroll.  Croft, 18, said he hopes to make the basketball squad as a walk-on, but he said he’ll be content to play intramural sports if he doesn’t make the cut.

School size and proximity to his parent’s home in Villa Hills, Ky., were factors for Braden McCauley. The 19-year-old Covington Catholic High School graduate also considered the universities of Kentucky, Louisville and Dayton.

“When I was at UK, it was like they were just trying to catch another student. Xavier had a welcoming feel,” the pre-pharmacy major said.

Victoria Owens, 17, of the Breezy Point section of Queens, New York, said she considered schools in the northeast, including University of Scranton, before choosing Xavier, saying she was encouraged by its lower costs compared to East Coast schools and a friend’s enthusiastic recommendation.

Bigger Classes Mean New Classrooms

To accommodate the freshmen, Xavier has created eight new classrooms this fall out of existing space, including four in what was an event space in Cintas Center.

Going forward, Graham said that XU’s ascension into the Big East will inject new energy into alumni bases in cities with Big East opponents like Milwaukee (Marquette), New York (St. John’s) and Washington (Georgetown).

“It gets us eyeballs,” Graham said. “It wins a look from people who wouldn’t otherwise look.”

Xavier may have had the biggest percentage increase, but UC and NKU also saw boosts in enrollments. 

  • University of Cincinnati’s freshmen class is projected to grow 6.6 percent to 6,450, part of the school’s largest-ever enrollment of 43,000 students, a 2.5 percent increase. UC’s record enrollment was fueled, in part, by the enrollment of more than 1,000 international undergraduates this fall – up from 300 in 2006, the university said – and more than 8,500 out-of-state students, a 7.4 percent increase from 2012.
  • Northern Kentucky University welcomed 2,250 freshmen, a nearly 10 percent increase. Its preliminary total undergrad enrollment fell slightly to 13,200 compared to 13,318 last fall.

Elsewhere on campuses across the Tri-State:

  • Miami University's total undergraduate rolls crept up 1.4 percent to 21,086 from 20,788, and its freshman enrollment was virtually unchanged at 4,842, up 0.6 percent from 4,811 in 2012.
  • Thomas More College’s total undergraduate enrollment stood at 1,200 students, down slightly from 1,230 in fall 2012. Its freshmen class grew to 314 compared to 299 in 2012.
  • At Mount St. Joseph, the preliminary count for the fall freshmen class leapt more than 15 percent to 322 compared to 279 last fall. The overall enrollment, which will likely fluctuate over the coming weeks, is 1,633, down from 1,702 last fall.
  • Cincinnati State Technical and Community College had 10,310 students enrolled as of Tuesday, a number that officials there expect to grow in coming weeks to roughly the same enrollment as last fall’s final count of 10,614.  Its preliminary count for freshmen is 3,269, compared to 3,406 freshman in the final count last year. This year’s freshmen total is expected to climb to approximately 2012’s enrollment, according to Anne Foster, director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness.
  • Northern Kentucky’s Gateway Technical and Community College is on a schedule that won’t produce comparable numbers for 2013 for several weeks.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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