Undergrad applicants at record high

There has been a 16 percent increase in applications to the University.

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 âÄúmixed blessing.âÄù 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 yearâÄôs 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 collegeâÄôs reputation, the Office of Admissions has a hard time saying no to students, Sigler said. âÄúItâÄôs very painful for us to have to say no to students,âÄù Sigler said. âÄúThe way we can sleep at night is that we do not take studentsâÄô 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.âÄù 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. âÄúWe really do try to be very customer-friendly,âÄù 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 âÄî 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 âÄî upwards of 10 âÄî 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, itâÄôs more likely that the University will have an influx in students enrolled for 2009-10, which could strain the UniversityâÄôs 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 donâÄôt 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 yearâÄôs freshman class around May. To ease the competition at the UniversityâÄôs most competitive colleges âÄî Institute of Technology , College of Biological Science s and Carlson School of Management âÄî the admissions office has increased the target size of next yearâÄôs class slightly, Sigler said. âÄúHaving high interest is never a bad thing,âÄù McMaster said.