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Temple welcomes 36 — yes, 36 — sets of twins and triplets in new class

Temple University's incoming freshman class includes more than twice the number of twins than were in the 2013 class. More multiple births and Temple's "family feel" are among the reasons surmised for the increase.

Beth Glennon photographs her freshman sons Seamus (left) and Liam (right) after helping Liam move into his dorm at Temple University on Wednesday.  They are two of a set of triplets and counted among 35 sets of twins in Temple's freshman class this year. (Seamus moved into a different dorm the next day).
Beth Glennon photographs her freshman sons Seamus (left) and Liam (right) after helping Liam move into his dorm at Temple University on Wednesday. They are two of a set of triplets and counted among 35 sets of twins in Temple's freshman class this year. (Seamus moved into a different dorm the next day).Read moreTom Gralish / Staff Photographer

Matt Brusko, one in a set of triplets, was looking to attend a different college from his siblings.

"I've been around them my whole life," said Brusko, 18, of Emmaus, Lehigh County. "I kind of wanted to get away from them."

But it didn't work out that way.

Brusko will be living across the hall from his sister, Liz, at Temple University, where both moved in Wednesday as freshmen and plan to study business.

They are far from unusual.

Temple boasted in a tweet last week that 35 sets of twins  — yes, 35,  and one full set of triplets — are among the incoming freshman class and new transfer students. That's nearly 1.5 percent of  the 5,000 new students.

(Temple counts the Bruskos as twins because their third sibling, Nick, is at Pennsylvania State University. The university did not have statistics on how many other of its twins were actually partial sets of triplets.)

The number of twins at Temple has been growing. In 2013, the first year Temple began keeping the statistic, 14 sets were in the class. By last year, that number had doubled.

Temple officials aren't sure what's causing the growth. But nationally over the last four decades, the number of fraternal-twin births nearly doubled, while triplet and higher multiple births quadrupled, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The reasons are that more women have used infertility treatments and more have delayed childbearing. The increase at Temple correlates with a surge in twin births nationally during the late 1990s.

While some twins want to stay together, others opt to experience college apart, said Nancy L. Segal, a developmental psychology professor at California State University, Fullerton, and director of the Twin Study Center.

"We don't know what really drives those decisions," said Segal, author of Twin Mythconceptions and Accidental Brothers. "This is a very uncharted area."

There's no best answer, she said: "It depends on the pair." Sometimes career interests, academic records, or sports prowess will lead them to different institutions.

Two of Joe and Beth Glennon's triplets — Liam and Seamus — are among Temple freshmen this year, but their brother, Richie, is going to Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., where he will run on the cross-country and track teams and study computer science in the smaller liberal-arts setting he was looking for.

The Glennons, of Haddonfield, introduced their sons to Temple years ago, when Joe began teaching there. In 2013 he was hired full time as an assistant professor in the department of advertising. The family went to basketball games and a gymnastics clinic.

"In sixth grade, we started brainwashing them," said Beth Glennon, a high school math teacher.

But when it came time to select colleges, the Glennons, both graduates of St. Joseph's University, made clear to their sons that the choice was theirs, even though as a Temple employee, Joe gets free tuition for his children. Out-of-state Temple tuition runs $28,176 annually.

"We've always been making sure that their academics and sports are what's right for them, not what's the most convenient for us or a package," Beth said. "They're not a package."

Liam, 18, said the choice was easy for him.

"The brainwashing wasn't really a factor," he said. "It's more like we're just taking part in this community that our dad has been a part of. It's a fun school, a fun community."

Seamus liked that Temple was close to home and big — big enough that if he didn't like his major, he could find something else. The university is also big enough that the Glennons can see each other as often or as little as they would like. Liam and Seamus are living in different residence halls.

The Glennons' first-born, Joey Jr., was the first to choose Temple. He'll be a senior this year, studying sports management. Liam will major in political science, and Seamus in exercise and sports science.

Richie, the third triplet, was considering going to Temple, too.

"I said, 'Don't feel like you're betraying the family. You can go to a different school,' " Joe Glennon told his son.

The family is flying two flags on the porch, one for Temple and the other for Moravian.

The Glennons are among four sets of Temple multiples from New Jersey. There also are four from Maryland; the rest are from Pennsylvania. Thirty-one sets will live in residence halls, with 11 sets sharing a room and eight more living in the same hall but different rooms, according to Temple.

Nine sets have declared the same major.

This is far more information than some universities have about multiples' enrollment. Penn State, Rutgers-New Brunswick, and the University of Pennsylvania all said they don't keep track. Villanova University reported 10 sets of twins, St. Joseph's three, and Stockton University in New Jersey 13 — all representing about 1 percent of freshmen. At Stockton, two sets of twins are on the women's cross-country team and one set each are on the women's volleyball and tennis teams.

Drexel University has two sets of triplets and 12 twin sets.

Some schools, including Wilson College, a small liberal-arts college in Chambersburg, Pa., offer special scholarships to twins and triplets. At Wilson, one set of twins is receiving the scholarship, equal to 45 percent off tuition.

Temple isn't specifically recruiting twins or offering special scholarships for them, said Shawn Abbott, vice provost for admissions, financial aid, and enrollment management, but is pleased that so many are choosing the North Philadelphia university.

"Of course, we love it," Abbott said.

The university hasn't kept track of how well twins or triplets fare academically compared with other students, or how often both remain enrolled through graduation.

Gadi Zimmerman and his twin brother, Shai, of Ambler, are seniors at Temple this year. Shai didn't start at Temple. He transferred from Kutztown University his sophomore year, and the brothers have lived together in an off-campus apartment since then. They originally didn't want to attend the same university, but Gadi, a financial-planning major, and Shai, a secondary-education major, have found their niches.

"Having him here is nice at the end of the day," said Gadi, president of Temple student government.

Matt and Liz Brusko said Temple ended up on a list of top colleges that each wanted to attend. They said they both liked that Temple was close to home, is in a city that makes transportation easy, and is filled with  friendly students and staff who delivered polished presentations on visitation day.

"That said something about the school," Matt said.

They wound up across the hall from each other by chance after both opted to live on a floor exclusively for students in the business school. Matt is majoring in entrepreneurship and innovation management, and Liz is undecided in business.

The siblings also are enrolled in some of the same classes, which proved beneficial in high school when the triplets took calculus together.

"If we needed help with homework, the other ones were right there," Liz explained.

Now, she and Matt can lean on each other again, she said.

"We'll go to the gym together," added Matt, who quickly warmed up to attending the same school as his sister, "get lunch together sometimes, study together."

On some things, they'll differ.

Liz donned a Temple T-shirt the day they moved in. Matt didn't.

"I don't want to look like a freshman," he said.