Melanie Evans

This year it’s first come, first serve for freshmen applying to the College of Biological Sciences.
The college, which admitted its first freshmen class in fall 1997, has become a popular option for prospective students — so popular, in fact, that the college has yet to finish opening applications received prior to the Dec. 15 guaranteed admission deadline.
As a result, the University is now re-routing all further applicants to the College of Liberal Arts’ pre-biology program.
At last count, 537 applications had poured into the college prior to the mid-December deadline. Under the early application guidelines, any student who meets the required admissions standards and turns in their application on time is guaranteed admission.
As of Jan. 5, the college mailed acceptance letters to 388 students, a number that far exceeds the expected target cut-off of 100.
“We definitely honor (the deadline),” said Wayne Sigler, director of the University Office of Admissions. “We’ve now, however, closed off admissions for people applying after that deadline.”
The unexpectedly high number of early applicants has administrators both thrilled and scurrying to prepare for the possible students.
Kathryn Hanna, assistant dean at the college, said the enthusiastic response is a sign of increased student interest in biology and the strong reputation of the college’s faculty and undergraduate program.
In turn, faculty members are pleased with the aptitude and enthusiasm of the new students, said Dr. David Tilman, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the College of Biological Sciences.
Record-high achievement scores accompany the new applicants. The prospective freshmen’s average aptitude rating — the high school percentile rank plus two times their ACT composite score — ranks a close third behind the Carlson School of Management and the Institute of Technology.
Tilman was chairman of the college’s undergraduate profile committee, a group that met at the request of College of Biological Science Dean Robert Elde.
The group worked through January to find ways to best accommodate the incoming class based on the tremendous demand for the program and the faculty’s practical ability to meet that demand, Tilman said.
More one-on-one contact with freshman and more classes were among the faculty’s final recommendations.
Tilman said he expects more applications to follow as students from around the state and nation begin to recognize what the college has to offer. Tilman added that he expects the program will become more competitive as well.
Although an increase in course offerings to accommodate more students would place more demands on the college’s professors, Hanna said she anticipates the pressure will be somewhat relieved by University President Mark Yudof’s molecular and cellular biology initiative.
Support of molecular and cellular biology is one of four focal points in Yudof’s 1998 capital budget request.
“We’re anticipating more teaching power within the college as part of the president’s new initiative,” Hanna said.
Kathleen Peterson, the college’s senior academic adviser, said advisers and faculty members are working to make the college an excellent academic home for new students.
She added that next year’s class can expect strong backing from the faculty and advisers, who are all trained biologists.