As first-year students smarten, worry about timely graduation looms

by Danielle Nordine

The University said this year’s incoming first-year students are at the top of their high school graduating class based on preliminary data. This year’s exact statistics for the class of 2011 won’t be released until later this fall, University spokesperson Dan Wolter said.

Every year national aptitude tests indicate college-bound students are becoming increasingly successful in high school.

The average ACT score for incoming first years at the University is projected at 26.7 compared to 25.2 last year. The University expects an upward movement in its admitted first-year students for 2007-2008, Wolter said.

In Minnesota, the average ACT score was 22.5, an increase of 0.2 points from 2006-2007, and remained above the national average, according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education’s Web site.

With the influx of more academically inclined first-year students, there is worry these students may not graduate in four years. This is because they could pursue a degree in a demanding area of study such as pre-medicine, chemistry and engineering.

Therefore, the University is taking precautions to ensure timely graduation.

First-year chemistry major Jocelyn Zhu said she will probably graduate in four years simply because her University scholarship requires her to do so.

The emphasis on studying abroad may also deter students from graduating on time.

“I think it may take me longer but that’s because I plan to study abroad for a semester, so that might make it difficult,” first-year chemical engineering student Kelsey Eide said.

Some students also worry that having an undecided major may hurt their opportunity to graduate in four years.

“I feel like those of us who are uncertain about our majors right away will have trouble graduating in four years with all the required classes we’ll have to take,” first-year Sarah Rusinak said.

Last October, the University announced the class of 2010 was “the best prepared in University history,” according to a University press release.

Emma Carew contributed to this report.