Last fall, 158 students graduated from Oxford College, a 50.48% increase from the 105 students who graduated in fall 2021. This semester, Oxford enrolled 49 new students for its second cohort of spring start students, according to Oxford Dean of Enrollment Services Kelley Lips.
The rise in early graduates is expected, Lips said, because class size has increased in recent years. The Oxford Class of 2022 had an entering number of 487 students, whereas the Oxford Class of 2023 had 589 students matriculate, the largest in Oxford’s history.
Lips added that admitted students likely had more opportunities to take extra credits to qualify for early graduation due to online resources created during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Perhaps students are going to summer school at higher rates, maybe now that there are more opportunities to take online courses,” Lips said. “Having these options expanded, perhaps students find it easier to take more credits during summer school.”
Some students, such as Vanessa Diana (22Ox, 25C), cited other reasons for graduating early, such as the Atlanta campus offering more diverse courses and opportunities.
“As a student who’s double majoring in business and psychology, it can be difficult at Oxford, just because the course selection is a little bit smaller than the Atlanta campus,” Diana said.
Harry Jing (22Ox, 25C), an Oxford early graduate, agreed with Diana’s sentiment, adding that there is a lack of research and career development opportunities at Oxford.
Oxford began admitting spring start students — first-years who begin their first semester in the spring — last year, welcoming 48 students in the first cohort, one less student than this year.
In addition to maintaining a similar number of spring admits, Lips said that the Office of Enrollment Services wanted to ensure that both spring start cohorts had similar demographics, such as gender breakdown, to allow for comparison between the classes.
“The first year, we were building the infrastructure and putting the pieces in place, and then the second year gave us an opportunity to see where we might need to make changes, or where things work really well,” Lips said. “Because of that we really didn’t want to make significant changes to the composition of the cohort that would make it difficult to be able to compare one year to the next.”
The Oxford Office of Student Involvement and Leadership held spring start orientation from Jan. 7 to Jan. 9 to help the new students transition to life at Oxford. Students participated in traditions such as the Oxford Olympics, Coke Toast and Ox-Walk.
“Our goal was to parallel the orientation experience for fall admits, so much of their program mirrored the fall orientation,” Assistant Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Stephanie Maddox wrote in an email to the Wheel. “We added additional programming and intentional conversations highlighting campus involvement, belonging and student leadership experience to help students get connected early on.”
Twelve spring start admits from last year led the orientation.
“Everyone is just really passionate about passing it forward and sharing the experiences and wisdom that we gained through navigating the challenges of college life,” Emily Zhou (23Ox), one of the spring start leaders, said.
Zhou added that this year’s transition was a lot smoother than her experience as a spring admit last year.
“Last year, when we came on to campus, this was the first year that there were any spring starts, so I feel like a lot of people didn’t really know what that meant,” Zhou said.
Spring admit Aanya Ravichander (24Ox) said the orientation helped her adapt to campus life.
“The orientation leaders were honestly awesome,” Ravichander said. “It was really nice that they were spring starts because no one else would really understand what it actually is like besides them, and the orientation itself actually did get us to know people very well.”
Elaine Li (24Ox), another spring start student, said she was also appreciative, but wished she could have gotten to know students outside of her orientation group.
“We are also just in the same group of eight people all throughout orientation, which is nice because we got to know the people in our group, but also, there were still like 50 spring starts, and we only got to know eight of them very well,” Li said.
Once the Oxford classes of 2022 and 2023 — which had a total of 1,076 entering students — graduate, Lips said she expects the number of Oxford students to return to the typical 950 to 975 range.
As a result, Oxford’s residential modular units, known as the Mods, will be removed over the summer, Oxford Director of Residential Education and Services Phillip Sullivan said. The Mods were introduced in fall 2021 to accommodate for “over enrollment,” according to Lips.
The Oxford Office of Residential Education and Services also has backup plans if the admission number goes beyond expectations once again, Sullivan added.
“We’ve converted some of our study rooms to bed spaces, and so we would be able to do things like that again,” Sullivan said.