U changes admissions requirements

by Brad Unangst and Paul Sand

All students applying to the University for the 2003 academic year will be subject to individual review, a policy change announced by the Office of Admissions last week.

Until now, students who met certain criteria were immediately admitted into most University colleges. University officials said the change will allow them to manage class sizes, increase diversity and consider factors beyond grades and test scores.

“It enhances our ability to consider an applicant’s personal circumstances that might have had a significant impact on their record,” said Dr. Wayne Sigler, University admissions director.

The University has not released an official statement on the policy, but admissions officials prepared a media briefing document to help explain the change.

The policy will affect students applying to the Institute of Technology and the colleges of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Liberal Arts and Natural Resources.

The guaranteed-admission policy is a formula based on high school class rank, standardized test scores and specified high school course work. Students who met the specified criteria and applied by the December deadline were admitted, while those below the mark were not automatically admitted.

The new policy still considers those factors but will also take into account a variety of criteria, including an applicant’s steady academic improvement, community involvement and how the applicant’s enrollment would enhance the University’s diversity.

Sigler said this “holistic approach” would better serve the University by allowing officials to manage class size. He added that he doesn’t expect the increased workload of reviewing more than 5,000 applications will greatly affect the process.

He said 2001’s incoming class of more than 5,300 students taxed University systems, leading to a lack of housing, advising and course availability.

The new policy should help the University meet its admission goal of 5,000 new students next year, Sigler said.

The College of Liberal Arts could become more selective, Sigler said.

“We’ve had to place about 900 freshman applicants that we thought were strong students on a wait list (in fall 2001),” he said.

An admissions policy change isn’t new to the University. Last fall, the Carlson School of Management, General College and College of Human Ecology adopted similar policies to limit enrollment.

The University joins all other Big Ten institutions except Iowa in implementing a holistic-style admissions policy.

Interim University President Robert Bruininks called the measure a “step in the right direction” and said it had the full support of University administrators, including the college deans.

The new policy “allows – I think what I would argue – a more multi-faceted and in-depth review of each and every application that we receive for admission to the University,” Bruininks said.

The policy is not an attempt to control admission, Bruininks said, but rather an attempt to create a more diverse University community.

“We want this to be a community of very talented young people who mirror the characteristics of our own society,” he said.

Brad Unangst welcomes comments at [email protected]
Paul Sand welcomes comments at [email protected]