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University offices prepare for arrival of largest class to date

Today the Class of 2011 will flood the Alderman and McCormick dormitories, bringing not only laptops and storage bins, but an unprecedented level of diversity. The group is also the largest incoming class the University has seen, and several offices have been working to welcome all the new first-year students as they arrive on Grounds. After experiencing what Dean of Admissions John Blackburn referred to as "the summer melt," the University saw the number of incoming first-year students drop to 3,267 as of Monday morning. "It's a part of what we see, and we've canceled a few students because of their final grades and others tell us they are going somewhere else for a variety of reasons," Blackburn said.The final numbers will be in by the first week in October when a census will be taken for the class profile. Offices throughout the University are working to accommodate and welcome the entering class by extending resources and introducing new programs. Several changes were implemented by the Office of Orientation and New Student Programs over the course of the summer session. "One big difference was that we offered two one-day transfer sessions with the option of staying overnight," office assistant director Connie Freeman said. Incoming students attended new programs, including "A World of Opportunity" that presented information on January Term, Semester at Sea and other academic offerings. When scheduling their classes, students had the opportunity to meet with two orientation leaders and a faculty member at the same time."This was a nice change because the OLs got to know faculty members and were on the same page with each other," Freeman said. This year's orientation also focused more on making students aware of their roles in the University community. "I have a lot of things that orientation got me into, like I'm looking into musical ensemble," first-year College student Jacquie Walters said. The Housing Division has also had to adjust to the incoming class. Because the size of the Class of 2011 exceeds the number of dormitory beds traditionally available for first-year students, the Housing Division has had to make changes to accommodate the large class. This year, the first-year students can expect 30 female triple rooms, according to John Evans, director of accommodations for the Housing Division. Incoming students can also look forward to a larger number of student greeters helping them move in after more returning students than usual volunteered. The Class of 2011 may break several records, but its members still bring with them the traditional enthusiasm, excitement and concerns that always characterize move-in day. "I'm worried about being homesick and being independent and getting adjusted," first-year College student Doo Lim said. Though accommodating the large class presents challenges, many look forward to the unique contributions this group of first-year students will bring to the University. "I want to keep the class sizes smaller but its good that there are so many students, it means that there are a lot of talented kids coming to U.Va.," second-year College student Emily Grannis said.