University of Utah administrators concerned that the semester conversion would decrease enrollment breathed a sigh of relief Thursday.

Enrollment counts taken the first day of class showed seniors pushed to graduate over the summer and more freshmen are coming to campus than last fall."I take that as a very positive sign that a new generation of students is coming to the semester system and seniors took advantage of greatly expanded course offerings over the summer to complete" their degrees, said John Francis, associate vice president of academic affairs and undergraduate studies.

By Thursday morning, 24,450 students had registered at the U. That accounts for 4,928 freshmen, 3,718 sophomores, 4,481 juniors, 6,696 seniors and 4,627 graduate students.

Last fall, final enrollment numbers totaled 26,183 students, including 4,667 freshmen, 3,737 sophomores, 4,684 juniors, 7,899 seniors, 4,908 graduate students and 288 correspondent students.

Preliminary correspondent student enrollment numbers were not available Thursday.

Numbers are considered fluid until the 15th day of class, when a final count is taken.

The numbers indicate about a 1,700 enrollment dip this year. But Francis believes numbers will even out, as additional students

traditionally register in the first two weeks.

Such "may doubly be the case in this new semester system," as classes began about one month early, Francis said.

Last spring's graduating class was the U.'s largest, granting 6,625 bachelor's and graduate degrees. That number, along with those showing about a 1,200 dip in registering seniors, indicates students rushed this summer to complete their degrees under the quarter system, Francis said. The U. also experienced a 9.6 percent increase in summer enrollment from 1997.

All of Utah's nine colleges and universities are now on the semester system. Semester classes run about five weeks longer than quarters and students get tuition bills twice rather than three times a year.

At the U., efforts to advise students of the change from quarters resulted in a 70 percent increase in students visiting an academic advisor from the previous year, Francis said.

Students changing to the semester system will need to take about five classes, rather than three or four, to complete a four-year degree on time. Problems associated with transferring quarter credits to semester credits will be decided in the student's favor, according to the Fairness Principle adopted by the U. Academic Senate.