GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Shane Moyer pushed open the door to his room at the Richard Stockton College on Tuesday, carefully juggling a surfboard and lacrosse equipment.
Moyer will share the space with two other students as the college welcomes its largest freshmen class ever — the first to exceed 1,000 students.
While the North Wales, Pa., resident liked Stockton for its criminal justice program, its lacrosse team and proximity to beaches (his family also has a house in Wildwood Crest), made Stockton an easy choice.
“My mom talked about me coming here and I came to lacrosse camp and the coach really talked me into it,” Moyer said as he found a safe spot for his surfboard on top of the tall clothes cabinet.
A record 1,015 freshmen are scheduled to arrive this week, up from the record 973 last year. An additional 1,100 transfer students have also enrolled, most coming from community colleges. The college is using 200 beds at its Seaview Resort for upperclassmen and has made single rooms into doubles and larger doubles into triples to add about 85 beds to the freshmen dorms, while lowering the cost to parents.
“We like the freshmen to live near each other,” Stockton Dean of Enrollment Management John Iacovelli said. “And offering some triples is also a way for families to save some money.”
The college’s original strategic enrollment plan called for 970 freshmen this year, but when they exceeded that number last year, the goal was adjusted to 1,010.
While most students still come from Atlantic and Ocean counties, the college has seen an increase in students from North Jersey as well. Iacovelli has marketed the college up north as an affordable way to “leave the state without leaving the state,” and the rural South Jersey college has appealed to students from the more urban north, he said.
Gordon Sabol from Washington Township in Bergen County said he heard about Stockton from a friend who had visited the campus and thought he might like it.
“I’m an Eagle Scout. I like a rural environment, and I’m going for a degree in environmental science,” he said. “Since I got in, I’ve learned a lot of my friends’ parents came here.”
There was a bit of a reunion atmosphere at move-in Tuesday. Kirk Knutsen of Lyndhurst in Bergen County, Class of 1979 chatted with Lynn Brass-Smith of Belvedere in Warren County, Class of 1978, as they moved their children into their new rooms. Both said they encouraged their children to consider the more affordable state schools, but let them make the decision on which they would attend.
“It’s a great school, even better now than when I was here,” said Knutsen, whose twin daughters Brooke and Courtney plan to study biology and were accepted at several state schools. “The new student center is outrageous.”
The Campus Center freed up space in other buildings to add more classrooms, but both classroom and parking are still expected to be tight this fall. A parking committee is looking at additional options, especially for the first hectic couple of weeks.
A new Manahawkin building already has 100 students enrolled and a site in Hammonton is scheduled to open in January. A new science building will open next fall. The college has also used classrooms at nearby Absegami High School in the evenings.
“I’ll be one of the happiest people here when we open Hammonton and the new science building,” Iacovelli said.
Contact Diane D’Amico: