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University of St. Thomas Welcomes Largest Freshman Class in School's History

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The University of St. Thomas (Houston) welcomes its largest incoming freshman class in the institution's 71-year history. The freshman class increased by 21 percent compared to last year.

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The University of St. Thomas - Houston

The University of St. Thomas - Houston

HOUSTON Aug. 29 - Founded by the Basilian Fathers of the Congregation of St. Basil, the University of St. Thomas is Houston's only Catholic university. The University welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.

"We have a very dedicated and wonderful admissions team who really care about UST, its mission and the Catholic intellectual tradition," Vice President of Enrollment Management Arthur Ortiz said. "We're blessed to have a great team of faculty, advisors and staff who have all contributed to UST's great reputation, and they've been a part of recruiting this class."

Ortiz said that the increase is due to a variety of factors such as the growing awareness of UST among prospective students. Although Millennials were the largest generation to graduate from high school, the national undergraduate enrollment rate went down this year, with 40 to 45 percent of institutions not meeting their enrollment goals. 

"We've done a good job of articulating why a college degree, especially a liberal arts one, is a worthwhile investment," Ortiz said. "Since our core curriculum revolves around the Catholic intellectual tradition, we teach skills that are so important right now - critical thinking, effective writing, good communication and working collaboratively."

Stats for the Incoming Class:

59% Hispanic

18% Asian-Pacific Islander

15% Caucasian

"Our student body reflects the diversity of Houston," Ortiz said. "It may be surprising to some that almost 25 percent of students come from households with annual incomes of $40,000 or less, and many of these are first-generation college students. 86 percent of students receive financial aid."

The question of how the University will adapt to support the growth of the student body is part of the University's integrated planning process, the Call Toward Tomorrow, which will unfold over the course of the next five years. A continuing increase in student enrollment is one of the main areas of focus in the plan. 

"While a lot of colleges are hunkering down and trying to survive, we're pushing forward and being aggressive," Ortiz said. "We're shaping what our future's going to be, rather than passively going along with whatever happens to us. We're not afraid to fail, confident that we'll succeed."

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