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University's growth plans could create growing pains

A record setting number of freshmen will arrive on Florida Atlantic University's campus next fall, and while most of FAU's upper management brags about the increase, some students are not pleased.

The university set a record this semester, receiving nearly 19,000 freshman applications for the fall 2011 semester.

"We are succeeding in making FAU a university of first choice for first-time-in-college students," said FAU president Mary Jane Saunders said in a news release.

But not everyone in the FAU family is excited about the sudden spike in application numbers. Some students feel that areas like parking and advising must improve before the student body expands.

"I'm all for making FAU a bigger, more traditional state school," said sophomore Jessica Carvantes. "But when it takes me 30 minutes to find a parking spot, I get upset about the fact that FAU is letting even more students in. It needs to take care of parking before it brings in more cars."

The availability of advisors is also a problem for some students.

"Whenever I go to make an appointment with an advisor," said junior Boris Batidas, "they say they can't meet with me for weeks, even months. Then when I finally do meet with an advisor, they're not always helpful. If more students are coming in, we need better advisors, and more of them."

Compared to this time last year, FAU has 4,000 more in-state applications and 300 more out-of-state applications. Other numbers, such as on-campus housing applications and campus tour requests, also are setting records.

FAU's associate director of media relations, Lisa Metcalf, said the school plans to grow even more.

"The FAU Board of Trustees adopted an enrollment plan in December to grow from 28,000 current students to 36,000 in five years," Metcalf said.

Metcalf added that the university is actively seeking to increase the number of out-of-state students by using its proximity to the beach as a selling point. However, Metcalf said, that is not a major part of the school's advertising campaign.

"FAU currently enrolls approximately 6 percent of students from outside Florida and plans to grow toward 10 percent," Metcalf said. "A small portion of the school's overall recruitment plan and material does note the benefits of the university's location in a tropical climate, which is also related to some of our premier academic offerings such as ocean engineering at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute [in Fort Pierce]."

Metcalf also said that parking and advising are under "constant review," but provided no specifics about plans to improve these areas as the influx of new students approaches.



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