Northeastern scrambles to find housing, teachers for freshmen

BOSTON - Northeastern University is scrambling to find housing and additional teachers for 600 extra freshmen.

The university accepted about 11,000 students for its incoming freshman class, expecting 2,800 would enroll. Instead, 3,400 students have decided to attend, according to spokeswoman Sandra King.

''We are trying to figure out if it was an increase in our reputation, or demographics or economic conditions that led to this,'' said King, who denied a Boston Globe report Thursday that the increased enrollment was linked to a computer problem.

Schools always accept more students than they expect to enroll, because many applicants apply to more than one school.

Some freshmen will have to take on extra roommates, some will commute from home and some will be forced to hunt for apartments in an already tight rental market. Classrooms will be more crowded and department heads will have to work longer hours to hire and train instructors.

''It gives us a short-term management issue,'' President Richard Freeland said.

''This is going to affect everything - the use of dining facilities, health center facilities, the workload for financial aid advisers,'' said senior Kerryann Driscoll, student government association president. ''Upperclassmen may not get the classes they want and may have to sit in crowded classes, while freshmen are going to have to live in triples instead of doubles.''

The journalism department expected 55 to 60 students in this year's freshman class, but instead will deal with 90 to 100. Last year, the art and architecture department had 83 freshman. This year, it expects 151. Communication studies, which had planned for 65 freshmen, faces 154.

King said professors were urged this year to actively recruit students by telephone as part of the school's marketing strategy. She said more students have been recruited by telephone in each of the past four years as a way to increase the visibility of the school.

''We certainly did things to make ourselves more attractive this year,'' said James Stellar, dean of the college of arts and sciences. ''That mission may have conflicted with proper enrollment management.''

The Boston Globe reported Thursday the larger class was due in part to a surge in the recruiting effort after several hundred prospective students' names were lost in a changeover from one computer system to another.

However, King said Thursday the school had tried out a new computer program to process people who called seeking information about the school and decided to stop using the program. No information was lost, and the program had nothing to do with admissions, she said.


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