Soon, the University of Tennessee will welcome its largest freshman class in three decades.
Nearly 4,700 freshmen will begin classes on Aug. 20 on the Knoxville campus, which is 400 more than last year.
In all, about 7,400 students will live on campus this fall, about 300 more than last year. While some have already moved to campus, the big move-in day begins Saturday, Aug. 16 at 8 a.m.
Despite the larger class size, the class has a lot of academic achievements to boast: an average ACT score of 27, an average high school GPA of 3.8 or higher, about 43 percent have a high school GPA of 4.0 or higher. Nearly 600 of the freshmen, or about 13 percent of the class, are enrolled in UT honors programs.
"It means that we're attracting the very best students in Tennessee and throughout the nation to come here," said UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. "They come here because of the quality of instruction that we offer and the amenities we have, all the way from athletics to study abroad, it's those experiences that cause those students [to] want to come to the University of Tennessee to be students and graduate here."
Cheek said by graduating more students in four years, the university can recruit more freshmen.
"As you move students through the educational process quicker, you can accept more on the front end," he added. "That's why we're able to accept a class like this this year."
In order to house larger classes, UT built the new Fred Brown Junior residence hall. Incoming freshman Zac Thress is moving in later this week.
"I'm just excited to have this new atmosphere," he said, while walking around campus Wednesday.
Two of his classmates, Savanna Price and Jenna Pinson, moved in earlier this week for a pre-semester class.
"It's nice being here this early because we can get a feel for it without there being a lot of people around," Pinson said.
When asked about the credentials of their fellow freshmen, all three were impressed.
"It's nice to know that we're going to be a part of that," Pinson said. Price added, "It's a little intimidating!"
Thress simply said he is excited.
"I'm excited about them, I'm excited to learn with them."