New faces look to accentuate U student body

by Robert Koch

After spending months considering different schools, then applying to the University and meeting admissions requirements, more than 5,000 freshmen are poised to invade campus this fall.
Collectively, they differ little from previous freshman classes: Most are Minnesotans who chose the University because of its location, program offerings and price. Individually, each brings variation to the pattern.
Almost every state will deliver the University at least one freshman this fall. And not all stand to be shocked by the January weather.
“Most of my friends go out of state,” said Alaska resident Licia Jacques, who plans to study aerospace engineering. “(The University) had my major. I like the cities, and they gave me the most scholarships.”
Freshmen: the usual candidates
As one of three Alaskans attending the University as a freshman this fall, Jacques is a rarity. Programs and scholarships aside, however, she might not have chosen the University had she not previously lived in Minnesota for six years; she also has family in the area.
Indeed, Minnesota residents account for almost three quarters of this year’s potential freshman class of 5,632 — on average, 15 percent of freshmen who have paid confirmation fees are not enrolled come the first day of class.
Students from Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota make up another quarter. Many of these students may qualify for reciprocity — tuition rates comparable or equal to those paid by Minnesota residents.
Academically, slightly more than half of this fall’s freshmen ranked within the top 25 percent of their high school class. Three quarters had ACT composite scores falling between 20 and 29. In short, they exceeded the national test score average of 22 and passed the University’s moderately difficult entrance requirements.
Eight in ten incoming freshmen are white; one in ten is of Asian or Pacific Island origin. One in twenty is African-American.
Transfer students add to incoming student body
Freshmen will not be the only new faces on campus come September. More than 2,000 transfer students will also attend classes. For them, location and program offerings figured in their decision to attend the University.
Incoming pre-med sophomore Wes Kvasnicka came to campus Friday to attend an orientation and registration session for students transferring into the College of Liberal Arts this fall.
Kvasnicka left the U.S. Navy in June after spending three years on the Pacific island of Guam. The Brooklyn Center resident said he considered attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, but decided on a program closer to home.
“The program had a little bit to do with it, but mostly because it was local — to get back to my family,” Kvasnicka said.
Physics sophomore Justin Dritz, a transfer student from Moorhead State University, said the University’s research facilities and size attracted him.
“I wanted to get out of the small town,” Dritz said.
Marketing the University
Wayne Sigler, director of University admissions, said freshmen and transfer students are equally important additions to the student body. But they differ greatly, he added. Transfer students focus on how quickly they can complete individual degree programs.
Livability, price, facilities, resources, quality of education and program availability are all factors for both freshmen and transfers when choosing the University. Still, “gut feeling” impressions, Sigler added, often sway students toward the University.
“People are asking themselves when they visit here:’Do I like the campus, will I be comfortable there, are there people there that will help me?'” Sigler said. “We think the campus visit is important.”
For Jacques, first impressions made during campus visits soon will be replaced by the day-to-day realities of student life. The freshman will arrive from Alaska at the end of August.
“I’m excited about all the stuff to do there,” she said. “There isn’t that much stuff for kids to do up here.”

Robert Koch welcomes comments at [email protected].