Majors and departments grow with arrival of incoming freshmen

Majors and departments grow with arrival of incoming freshmen
Academic departments with the most freshmen relative to the total number of students in that department for fall semester 2022. Graphic by Slater Dixon.

Augustana University welcomed one of its largest incoming classes of undergraduate students this fall with 553 new students, including a total of 92 international students, a new record for the university.

The increase in the number of incoming students has led to significant growth in some departments. The business department saw a nearly 50% increase compared to last year.

“We welcomed 140 new majors into the School of Business for 2022-23, almost a 50% increase over last year when we had 96 new majors,” Marcia Entwistle, dean of the School of Business said.

Ava Brandt, a freshman majoring in business administration and English, picked her major to keep her options open.

“Business administration opens up a lot of opportunities,” Brandt said. “Every place will need someone with knowledge of business.”

Even though quite a few majors have seen progressive growth, biology has still held the top position for the past three years.

Biology professor Mark Larson said his department hopes to continue drawing in students.

“We want to convey the passion we have about biology to our students and to equip them with the tools needed to learn about biology,” Larson said.

Nursing has also been a favored major. This year, 8.5% of the incoming undergraduate class declared nursing as their major.

According to nursing program director Lynn White, the department will see the impact of these new students over the next couple of years.

“The large incoming class isn’t affecting the nursing department just yet,” White said. “We will definitely feel the effects in the fall of 2024 when these students begin their core nursing courses.”

Another popular major was computer science. This fall, the department welcomed 45 new students and is now about 50% first-year students.

Exercise science was also trending, with 7.7% of the incoming class declaring it as their major. Psychology has also remained a well-liked major among the incoming classes over the past three years, as has government.

Grishma K C, a freshman majoring in government and economics, said she has enjoyed her professors in both departments.

“Augustana has a variety of the most ongoing subjects in government,” K C said.

Education has also been climbing the ranks among favored majors, moving up by one place.

Incoming students said a search for meaning and studying personal interests were driving factors in choosing a major. Other variables, such as prospective earnings, were a smaller part of their decisions.

“When I chose to study nursing, money wasn’t the only thing I had in mind,” freshman nursing major Sandesh Bastola said. “The thought that I could make an impact, a positive impact on someone’s life while doing something that intrigues me, gives me satisfaction.”