Undergrad applicants at record high

The U saw a 16 percent increase in applications.
April 12, 2009

The University of Minnesota is more popular than ever judging by the number of undergraduate applicants for fall 2009, but University administrators say high numbers are a “mixed blessing.”
There has been a 16 percent increase in applications to the University, which means the University has to turn down more students. The jump in applications makes predicting the size of next year’s freshman class more difficult, Director of Admissions Wayne Sigler said.
This is the sixth straight year the University has broken application records, with 33,000 applicants vying for only 5,350 spots, and although competition is good for a college’s reputation, the Office of Admissions has a hard time saying no to students, Sigler said.
“It’s very painful for us to have to say no to students,” Sigler said. “The way we can sleep at night is that we do not take students’ interest in the University for granted, and I can absolutely ensure each applicant and their families that we make every effort to ensure their application is given a very consistent, fair review.”
The office begins reviewing applications in October and at least two people look over every application. Students can expect an answer within 10 weeks of submitting an application, Sigler said.
“We really do try to be very customer-friendly,” he said.
Although Minnesota State Colleges and Universities spokeswoman Melinda Voss did not have the data to determine if application numbers are increasing throughout their schools, St. Cloud State University Associate Director of Admissions John Brown said they have had almost a 3 percent increase in applications.
University Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster said t he University uses a formula to calculate how many students to accept each year based partly on historical trends of how many people reject the University after they are accepted.
In the past the formula has been very accurate — a few years ago the University hit their target number of freshman students right on the nose, McMaster said, but this year presents challenges the formula might not be able to answer so precisely.
Because of the economic crisis, students are applying to more colleges — upwards of 10 — which makes acceptance rates harder to predict, Sigler said.
There is pressure to get the number of students who will accept right, McMaster said.
If the freshman class is less than 5,350, the University would lose money, both administrators said, putting even more financial pressure on the University, which is already facing a substantial budget cut.
However, it’s more likely that the University will have an influx in students enrolled for 2009-10, which could strain the University’s resources, they said.
Campus tours at the University are up 13 percent over last year, which is an indicator applicants consider the University one of their top choices, Sigler said. Generally students who don’t take campus tours are unlikely to attend the University.
McMaster said the University expects they will arrive close to their goal and Sigler said they should have an accurate number assessment of next year’s freshman class around May.
To ease the competition at the University’s most competitive colleges — Institute of Technology , College of Biological Science s and Carlson School of Management — the admissions office has increased the target size of next year’s class slightly, Sigler said.
“Having high interest is never a bad thing,” McMaster said.

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