An enrollment cap of 7,500 students will be enforced for the first time next fall at Ricks College, but not too strictly.

Gordon Westenskow, admissions director at the LDS Church-owned junior college, said 7,694 students were enrolled for the 1988 fall semester even though the cap was in place.But this year, the number of completed applications is up 500 from the same time last year. The number of students actually enrolling could hit the 7,500 ceiling before the June 1 admission deadline

"We never enforced it because we could accept more students," Westenskow said. But now, "We're experiencing growing pains. I don't know how else to explain it. It's unlike anything I've had to deal with before."

A couple of years ago, Ricks officials projected that enrollments would continue to climb. They quietly moved the admission deadline up from August to June. But last year, applications continued to be accepted until almost the start of the fall semester.

Westenskow said a few more than 7,500 students will be admitted because administrators realize some students who are accepted do not end up enrolling. An enrollment of 7,500 is a goal as well as a cap for the nation's largest private junior college, he said.

"The minute people start thinking you're too full, they start looking elsewhere," Westenskow said. "That's why we're anxious we don't put out the word Ricks is full."