The University of Oklahoma in Norman is seeing a steady rise in the enrollment of incoming freshmen on an annual basis, leading to expansion on campus.

OU students who will be a part of the graduating class of 2021 are mostly the ones who enrolled in the fall of 2017. Over 4,400 students enrolled, becoming the largest freshman class in school history.

The record-breaking class enrolled about 200 more students than the freshman enrollees in 2016, which held the record at the time. The record has been broken every year since the fall of 2014 as the amount of enrolling freshman continue to rise.

“I chose to come to OU because my family has always been lifelong OU fans. My brother graduated here a couple years ago, and I absolutely fell in love with the campus when I toured my senior year of high school,” said freshman biology major Claire Sullivan, who is among the largest freshman class in school history.

The number of applications submitted for admission into the university increased by nearly 2,000 from fall 2016 to fall 2017. OU Associate Director of Recruiting Tristen Black thinks the next freshman class has the ability to be the largest yet.

“I expect that our next freshman class will be larger, just by looking at the number of applications that we’re getting currently,” Black said.

Black, who recruits juniors and seniors at several high schools in northeastern Oklahoma, believes the university is becoming more popular, which leads to more interest from prospective students. “OU is in the unique position of being a top 100 university nationally that offers competitive degree programs while still maintaining the public university price tag,” Black said.

With an undergraduate retention rate of over 90%, the majority of freshmen eventually become sophomores. Since there are more students arriving to campus, the university must accommodate several occupancy issues, including on-campus housing.

The award-winning residential colleges are a recent addition to the campus, giving more opportunity for students to live on-campus should they elect to. Located within walking distance to classes, many current freshmen praise the amenities as a reason to live on-campus as an upperclassman.

“I recently signed up to live in Dunham [residential] college for my sophomore year, because I toured it and thought it looked like something out of a movie,” said freshman student Lindsey Anstine. “It comes with its own meal plan, which is something I think is a lot easier to deal with, and I have a guaranteed parking spot.”

Cross Neighborhood, another on-campus community for upperclassmen, is currently in the final stages of construction and is expected to be open for the fall 2018 semester. It will feature four separate buildings, which provides many options for the abundance of freshmen who wish to stay on campus.

The incoming freshman classes have real potential to rise each year through familiarity and comfortability. “As more students experience OU and find a home here, they tell their friends about it and our reach grows each year,” Black said.