East Lansing — Michigan State University's incoming freshman class is expected to be the largest and most diverse in the school's history, the university said Wednesday.

More than 8,400 freshmen are expected for the 2018-19 academic year, a more than 2 percent increase from last year, according to a statement from the university.

The incoming students also represent the second-largest "domestic non-resident" total in the university's history, the statement said.

The colleges of Arts and Letters; Engineering; Natural Science; and Nursing and Social Science all reflect more than 10 percent freshman enrollment increases at MSU, About  50,019 students overall were enrolled in fall 2017. 

The university said the projection is based on the number of admitted students who paid their admissions deposit by the May 1 commitment date. 

African-American enrollment is up nearly 24 percent by more than 700 students. MSU continues to have the largest population of black students in the Big Ten, according to the statement. 

Freshmen Hispanic enrollment is up 25 percent and Asian enrollment climbed 36 percent.

“The quality and value of the university continue to be validated by families who choose to invest in their students’ future at MSU,” said Interim President John Engler. “I’m really pleased to see that Michigan State’s admissions numbers reflect students’ desire for world-class research and faculty.”

Engler spoke on the slight increase in April during an interview on WJR-AM’s “Paul W. Smith Show,” where he addressed issues facing the university in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal. The now-incarcerated doctor was convicted  of sexually abusing young women during medical treatments.

Engler said during the interview that the campus is "incredibly safe, where there is a new level of attention to detail and a new level of responsiveness should there be anything that is unseemly."

Currently, 76 percent of the incoming freshmen are from Michigan, compared to 70 percent the last school year.

 The academic profile of the 2018-19 class remains the same, with an average ACT composite score of 23-29 and SAT combined score of 1130-1300.

The school noted that the number of international students, who made up 6,661 of MSU’s enrollment last fall, fell 31 percent. The decrease was mostly among Chinese students, reflecting a national trend. The university said it likely will see more students from India and Latin America. 

Due to the increase in students, MSU plans to hire more faculty and add courses. In the fall, the university will offer more basic courses in writing, science and mathematics along with more graduate students teaching classes. 

“MSU takes great pride in the trust the new freshman class has placed in our institution,” said Jim Cotter, executive director of admissions and recruitment. “Together, we will work to change our global community both socially and educationally.”

In the fall, Ashley Highland will be a freshman at MSU with a history major. She chose the university because of it's academics, outreach to students and its federally funded TRIO program for low income and first-generation college students.

"They have a great LGBTQ center and a federal TRIO program, which is great because I’m in a federal TRIO program at my high school," said Highland, 18. "I also liked the size of the school because I knew I wanted to meet as many people from as many places as possible."

Highland is graduating from Wayne Memorial High School in Wayne. She said the university's recent scandals gave her pause in the decision to attend MSU, but ultimately did not steer her away. 

"I have a few friends who go there and actively participate in protests," she said. "While visiting campus, I saw so much awareness and student-led resistance against those scandals. 

"Sexual assault is a huge problem on college campuses and I’m glad that the people in power at MSU are facing consequences for their actions. It deterred me a bit, but when I saw the student-led fight against it, I knew it was a place for me."


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