U applications up 7 percent

Other schools have seen larger increases but smaller pools.

by Jill Jensen

Less than a quarter of applicants to the University of Minnesota will be accepted for next year after a 7 percent increase in freshman applications.
Of the 38,831 applications submitted to the UniversityâÄôs Twin Cities campus as of Friday, 5,300 will be accepted, according to the UniversityâÄôs Office of Admissions.
The situation is âÄúbitter-sweet,âÄù said Wayne Sigler, director of admissions, because though the amount of applicants expressing interest is gratifying, the University has to reject students.
âÄúWeâÄôre not trying to keep students out of the University,âÄù Sigler said. âÄúWhat weâÄôre trying to do is to make certain that we admit the overall strongest applicants.âÄù
Minnesota residents will make up at least 60 to 65 percent of incoming freshman.
âÄúOur motto here is Minnesota first and foremost,âÄù Sigler said. âÄúWe always make certain that Minnesota students get first priority in the admissions process.âÄù
If the number of accepted students is too low, it can cause severe budget issues for the University. On the flipside, over-enrollment can âÄúover-taxâÄù resources available for studentsâÄô success, like availability of courses, campus housing and access to academic advisers, Sigler said.
Sigler pointed to the quality of the UniversityâÄôs programs and its cost as drivers for more applications.
The UniversityâÄôs location in a major metropolitan area also attracts students, Sigler said, since it provides job opportunities and internships as well as cultural and recreational resources.
The University Honors Program, which provides University students the opportunity to graduate with Latin honors, in addition to honors courses and individualized advising, has also generated interest, Sigler said.
As of Friday about 1,651 accepted applicants had confirmed enrollment, which was 4 percent more than the same time last year, Sigler said. But most do not confirm until a few weeks before the deadline in May.
The 2,000 or so students who transfer each fall generally do not impact the number of freshman applicants admitted, Sigler said, but there is some overlap.
The number of both national and international applicants has increased, he said.
âÄúThe University of Minnesota is a talent magnet,âÄù Sigler said. âÄúAnd thereâÄôs a good chance that if a student graduates from this campus, they will stay here and enter the Minnesota workforce.âÄù
Nancy Conner, spokeswoman for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, said the seven state universities have received about 1,570 more applications than compared to the same time last year. If the trend continues, it will mean a 5 percent increase over the 32,700 applications they had received by this time last year.
The UniversityâÄôs applicant rate has more than doubled since 2004 but still has not experienced the increase in applications other Big Ten schools felt.
Applications to the University of Michigan are up about 20 percent from 31,613 last year, said Erica Sanders, director of recruitment and operations at MichiganâÄôs office of undergraduate admissions.
âÄúWhile the university has experienced application growth in each of the past five years,âÄù Sanders said, âÄúthis yearâÄôs increase may be in part due to our switch to the common application.âÄù
The common application is a single online application students can submit for more than 400 colleges and universities in the country.
Both Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have experienced a similar increase in applicants for the coming year, though their overall number of applicants is less than at the University.
Ohio State spokesman Allen Kraus said the school received about 29,000 applications for next school year. Madison has received 28,564 as of Feb. 15, spokesman John Lucas said. Both figures equate to a 10 percent increase over last year.
Lucas said it is too early to tell whether the possible increase in tuition due to Gov. Scott WalkerâÄôs recent budget proposal will send potential Madison students to Minnesota, as tuition will not be set until the summer.