The University is a popular place if you believe the numbers. To date, the amount of freshman applications has risen 20 percent from this time last year.
However, the University is working to reduce the number of freshmen admitted despite the increase that has exceeded administrators’ expectations, officials from the Office of Admissions said.
“Prudence seems to suggest that we be a little more conservative with the number of freshmen,” said Craig Swan, vice provost for undergraduate education.
The target freshman enrollment for fall of 1999 is 4,785, said Wayne Sigler, director of the Office of Admissions. This compares with the 5,166 freshmen admitted to the University in fall 1998, the largest freshman class in more than a decade.
“It is not possible for us to control precisely the number of freshmen admitted,” Swan said. “This fall a higher number of people accepted our offer than in the past.”
Explaining the boom in applications is a complicated procedure, since no single factor can be pinpointed as the exact reason.
“It is difficult to determine the exact cause and effect,” Sigler said, citing an increase in student interest, students applying earlier to meet the priority deadline and what he called a strong emphasis by Yudof on customer service.
Sigler added that many people view the University as a good value because it offers academic quality at a reasonable price.
However, the University needs to keep in check the number of people who want to take advantage of it.
“We need to be careful that everybody we admit, we can offer a quality education to,” Swan said.
The application numbers at this point in time are nowhere near final. The priority deadline for incoming freshmen was Dec. 15. For those students who have returned applications and meet academic criteria, admission is granted.
However, the final deadline for admission is not until June 1.
“What we do think (is that) come September, we expect applications to be up,” Sigler said.
But simply returning an application, even if a student does meet the academic criteria, does not automatically ensure acceptance. The University has a rolling deadline in which decisions are made case-by-case as the applications filter in.
“After (Dec. 15) we review applications on a space-available basis,” Sigler said.
Some schools at the University reach maximum capacity earlier than others depending on the popularity of the school. For example, if a freshman waited until June 1 to apply to the Carlson School of Management, the chances of being accepted would be slim. This is in contrast to more general colleges, like the College of Liberal Arts, which usually continues to admit students until the final deadline.
If the University maintains its target enrollment, the freshman class size will be smaller than this year. However, Sigler said the focus is not on admittance as much as keeping the students already enrolled. Sigler added that the rate of students staying at the University after their freshman year went up significantly between 1997 and 1998.
“We enhance retention and graduation,” he said. “We want to keep things reasonably in line with resources — housing, course availability and advising.”
Whatever the final numbers, officials are making plans to better accommodate the large University population.
Carrie Hatcher, public relations coordinator for Parking and Transportation Services, said several projects are underway to help loosen University parking congestion.
The Gateway Center garage, expansion of the West Bank Office Building ramp, a new ramp in St. Paul and the completion of the East River Road garage will add hundreds of additional spaces to on-campus parking during the 1999-2000 school year.
Officials from Housing and Residential Life said plans are in the works to expand on-campus housing. While residence halls already have beds for 4,625 students, construction and the leasing of buildings by 2000 will add 1,050 additional spaces.