U lures more than ever

State postsecondary enrollment is also up, approximately 50,000 from 1998-2003.

Jerret Raffety

The University is back in the record books, but this time there are no students or staff members who can take credit.

The 2004-05 academic year marked the second consecutive year the University received a record amount of applications from prospective students, said Wayne Sigler, Office of Admissions director. Applications have increased 9 percent between now and this time last year.

On top of this, the Office of Admissions projects another year with a 7 percent increase in applications received for the 2005-06 academic year, Sigler said.

This has led to higher numbers of students, he said.

The numbers of students enrolled at the University has been increasing at all levels as well, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Reporting. Specifically, the number of students enrolled has increased by more than 1,000 students per year since 2001, according to the office.

This trend remains consistent on a statewide level, as public postsecondary enrollment numbers have increased from approximately 200,000 in 1998 to approximately 250,000 in 2003, according to the Minnesota Higher Education Services Office.

“We feel honored (by the increased application numbers) but more students have taxed resources such as housing,” Sigler said.

The result has been a renewed effort to stay within target numbers for students admitted, he said. The goal of this target number is to admit a diverse student body.

“We are the state’s flagship university, and we want to broadly reflect the state of Minnesota in our admissions,” Sigler said.

This is not to keep students out, but to give opportunities to students who are most likely to graduate, he said.

But the pool of college-bound high school seniors in Minnesota is shrinking, Sigler said. That’s partially because the number of ACT test-takers has declined slightly since last year and is projected to decrease again, he said.

“Generally, if you’re going to college in Minnesota, you take either the ACTs or SATs,” Sigler said.

Part of the spike in applications occurs because word of mouth spreads about improvements the University has

made, such as reducing class sizes, increasing course availability and making more academic advisers available, Sigler said.

Although University tuition has increased 68.7 percent since 2001, the University is still seen as an “outstanding” value because of these improvements, Sigler said.

“All of us at the ‘U’ are concerned with the increases, but we have been faced with significant decreases in state funding,” Sigler said.

Despite strained resources and budget cuts, the University admissions office still prides itself on using an application process based on a thorough, fair and consistent assessment of students, besides numbers, Sigler said.

“That’s what helps us sleep at night,” Sigler said.