New Kids On the Block

A new group of students, the Class of 2015, arrived in New Paltz on Aug. 22.
A new group of students, the Class of 2015, arrived in New Paltz on Aug. 22.

A new class of first-year students has arrived at  SUNY New Paltz. The college welcomed 1,195 new first-year students during the annual move-in day on Aug. 22.

First-year student Renee Petrillo said she came to SUNY New Paltz because everyone was friendly and she fell in love with the town and college.

“I desperately wanted a change of scenery because I’ve lived in Queens my entire life and New Paltz is such a breath of fresh air,” Petrillo said. “During my college search, I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for because I basically have no sense of direction career-wise, but I knew I didn’t want to be too far away from home, which led me to New Paltz.”

According to the Vice President of Enrollment Management, David Eaton, the mean SAT score of incoming students was an 1170. The middle 50 percent scored between an 1110-1220. The mean high school GPA of the class was a 91.3. The middle 50 percent boasted a GPA between 89 and 93.5 on a scale of 100 percent. Students have come from several different geographic areas as well, bringing many backgrounds together on campus.

“Freshmen are from Upstate New York, Hudson Valley, the Northern Suburbs, New York City, Long Island, out of state and internationally as well,” Eaton said.

First-year student Maria DeAngelo has already made herself comfortable at New Paltz.

“The atmosphere is laid back and everyone is super friendly,” said DeAngelo. “I chose to come to New Paltz for those reasons exactly…as well as knowing that I’d get a good education by coming here.”

The Welcome Back Week of 2011 kicked off on Aug. 22 with the arrival of the first-year students on campus. Brunch was held at Hasbrouck Dining Hall for students and their guests, while check-in for the residence halls ran all day. Open recreation was also available throughout the day at the Elting Gym.

Students later attended a reunion with their orientation groups and leaders, and Comedian Bernie McGrenahan provided entertainment for the class with an evening performance. Orientation activities were held over the course of the week as well, including a College Advantage and Financial Aid workshop, a movie night on the quad and an all campus barbecue.

Both Petrillo and DeAngelo said they are enjoying the start of the semester.

“I’ve only been to each of my classes once so far due to the hurricane set-backs, but from what I can tell, they’re going to be great,” Petrillo said. “The teachers all seem very cool and understanding and most importantly, I’m actually interested in the subjects.”

First-year student Karen Barba is excited about the extensive range of classes offered to incoming students.

“I love my classes. It’s a wider selection of classes than I could have dreamed of and I was able to create my perfect schedule in my first semester,” Barba said. “The teachers are also really helpful and I learn a lot more even though it’s a different teaching style. In the end, my experiences at New Paltz will be the best I will probably ever have.”

What further differentiates this class are their diverse academic interests. According to Eaton, “Diverse academic interests bridge all five schools: Business, Education, Fine and Performing Arts, Liberal Arts and Sciences (which include the Humanities, Languages, Social Studies and Literature) and Science and Engineering.”

Barba appreciates the Liberal Arts aspect of the New Paltz academic community.

“The big reason why I decided to come to New Paltz is because it’s a big Liberal Arts college and I’m currently under an undecided major. I thought that this would be a good choice,” Barba said.

For many students commuting to school from home, the first semester of college can be a bit of a transition. Barba believes that the commute is a good one as long as she is able to keep her job.

“It is 35 to 40 minutes from my house so I can keep my job and not be a broke college student,”  she said.

SUNY New Paltz is an ideal location to go to school and still maintain a job. The college is also favorable for many students choosing to live on campus.

In terms of demographics, almost one third of the freshmen class is ethnically from traditionally underrepresented classes in higher education, according to Eaton. This is primarily African American, Hispanic and Asian American. Numerically they are the first group with this new level of diversity to enter the college in its history.

Through this new group, which Enrollment and Admissions officials deem to be “academically strong” and “diverse,” SUNY New Paltz will continue to grow and evolve.