Florence County, SC - By Alisha Laventure
FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – Francis Marion University's freshman class is a record setting group students. They are the largest incoming class the university has had in a decade.
This year's class has close to 830 students, nearly 40 more than last year's. Senior Admissions Counselor Maggie Gause says she thinks the tough job market may have played a roll.
"I think the economy has a lot to do with it, people coming back to work after, you know, losing a job or people have gone to work right out of high school," Gause said.
More than a third of the freshman class came to the FMU campus for orientation. Director of Admissions Jim Schlimmer says the turnout for Thursday's orientation was largest the university has ever seen.
There are also more scholarship recipients in this freshman class than previous years. There is a 15 percent increase in scholarship recipients from last year's incoming class, 30 percent from two years prior.
Gause said the average age of this year's freshman's class is slightly higher than it has been in the past.
"They've already got the work experience behind them, nine times out of ten, and then having that degree is going be better for them in the long run," Gause said.
Ninety-five percent of the incoming freshmen are from the Palmetto State. Twenty years ago, the majority of students were from the Pee Dee area, according to Schlimmer. Now, he says the university has a more even mix of students from all over South Carolina.
Classes have yet to begin and some freshmen already feel the pressure to do well. Shane McConlogue says his biggest worry is not making the grade.
"I don't want to let anybody down, or let myself down," McConlogue said. "Just high expectations I guess."
McConlogue will be playing on the soccer team and says good time management is how he plans on being successful on and off the field.
Allison Rhodes is another freshman who seems to understand the value of a college education.
"It's not just about school, it's about learning," Rhodes said. "Learning about life."
FMU is still accepting applications for fall enrollment.