Admissions office meeting its goals

Jim Martyka

The University’s Office of Admissions sets specific goals each year to increase the number of freshman applications, and the latest preliminary report shows their work is paying off.
The report shows an increase in each of the three categories in which the office has focused their efforts for the upcoming year, including the number of overall freshman, minority freshman and Honors Program applications.
“At this point, we’re pretty confident that we have a large, outstanding and diverse freshman class in the works,” said Wayne Sigler, the office’s director.
Sigler said the report, which was released during the Board of Regents March meetings, marks the progress of the admissions office’s continuing goal to improve admissions at the University.
The office reported on three areas in which they have focused their efforts during the past year.
In one section, the report showed an increase of 5 percent in total freshman applications compared to the same date last year. The admissions office reported receiving a total of 10,875 applications for fall 1997. The number of applications has increased since 1992 by about 53 percent.
“This is primarily due to a more aggressive recruiting campaign,” said Sigler.
In the campaign, Sigler said, the office devoted more time to showing potential freshmen the opportunities available to them at the University as well as how accessible help at the University is for students.
“But most important, this has been a team effort,” Sigler said. “Faculty, staff, students and alumni have all been crucial to this.”
Patricia Jones Whyte, the assistant director of freshman admissions, also said achieving the high numbers required cooperation.
“We’ve all worked,” she said. “And our outreach and recruitment programs have had a priority to be visible to more students than we have in the past.”
Whyte said this required expanding such programs as Campus Preview Days and high school visits, as well as inviting more students to tour campus. Campus Preview Days allows about 1,000 prospective students to receive an extensive one-day presentation of the University sometime around Homecoming.
The office also introduced a new program called “Bringing the ‘U’ to You,” which Whyte said took a sample of the campus preview program to greater Minnesota schools.
“We would dress a room up to represent parts of the University, show slides and have students and area alumni talk,” said Whyte. “It was a way for students to see if they fit in.”
Sigler said representing the University’s many programs was a main strategy.
“We have showcased the product itself,” he said. “And interest has surged.”
The office’s report also showed an increase of about 8 percent in the number of applications from students of color compared to the same date last year. This number has increased since fall 1992 by about 72 percent.
Sigler said this has been a top priority at the office for two reasons.
“First we want to make sure that all of the diverse cultures are represented at the University,” he said. “Also, we feel that a more diverse student body greatly enriches the student experience at the school.”
Whyte said the surge in the number of applications has come as a result of work done to promote various programs that are offered to students of color. “We want to show them that there is a place at the University for them.”
The third area in which the University has seen an increase is in Honors Program applications, which are running about 26 percent ahead of the same time last year. The report showed that since 1993 applications are up 109 percent.
Sigler said reasons for this surge include an increased number of scholarships, a simplified application process and more available housing for Honors students.
While Sigler and Whyte both said this report is not the final update. They also said that, assuming there is not a significant decrease in student interest in the University, these statistics should be close to final numbers.
Despite the increase in all areas, Sigler and Whyte both said the admissions office still has to improve in some areas, including involving more current students in the recruiting campaign.
“We can’t become arrogant, which is easy to do when things are going well,” said Sigler. “We have to continue to work hard.”
Along with the work the office has done, more people are applying at the University simply because it is an outstanding school, said Marvin Marshak, senior vice president for Academic Affairs.
Marshak said students are attracted to the University because of its quality programs, cheaper tuition in comparison with other schools and diverse student population.
“People just realize that this is a great place to be,” he said. “This is a world-class institution.”