Application standards rise at CSE

by Youssef Rddad

Three of Harry Barrett’s classmates in one of his engineering classes at Century College were accepted to the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering, including himself.
The recent CSE mechanical engineering graduate said he was confident applying to the college, but for many, CSE is becoming more competitive.
As the demand for STEM students grows, a larger portion of students accepted to CSE finish high school in the top 10 percent of their class, and the school attracts more high-performing students than other University colleges do. But some administrators say high school class rankings can sometimes be deceiving.
“The entire university has gotten more competitive, and more and more high schools are not giving us that information,” CSE Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Paul Strykowski said. “That number is harder and harder to interpret every time.”
Strykowski said he thinks high schools might be pressured by parents to not list their class rankings, especially for schools where the average GPA is high and would rank students with relatively high GPAs lower.
Associate Vice Provost and Director of Admissions Rachelle Hernandez said she has noticed larger, often suburban, high schools do not report rankings.
“Oftentimes, you’ll see a 3.5 GPA in the 50th percentile,” Hernandez said. “A student’s GPA only tells you a piece of that student’s story, though.”
Hernandez said the school also looks at incoming students’ past course work, academic interests and activities when admitting students.
SAT and ACT scores for CSE students still remain higher than other University of Minnesota colleges. According to the Office of Institutional Research, more than half of CSE freshmen scored between 1400 and 1600 on the SAT. On the ACT, nearly 95 percent of freshmen scored between 28 and 36. 
CSE’s student body has also grown, admitting almost 150 more freshmen between 2010 and 2014.
Strykowski said about one-third of students who graduated from CSE last year were transfer students.
Barrett, the recent mechanical engineering graduate, said he transferred to CSE after graduating from his community college. He said he finished high school with a
3.2 GPA, but he had a 3.69 GPA when he transferred.
“I had more than just academics backing my transfer,” Barrett said, adding that he tutored in physics and math.
Hernandez said the admissions office started ramping up efforts to recruit and reach more transfer students in the last two years.
“We were seeing some transfer students who were applying but might have missed the application deadline, but would have been admissible had they known what the deadlines were,” Hernandez said.
Along with more transfers and high-performing freshmen, administrators also said the school has tried to recruit more female students into the school. Women accounted for 18.8 percent of CSE’s undergraduates in 2008. That number grew to almost 24 percent in 2015, according to OIR data.