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Posted on Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

University of Michigan: 39,570 freshman applications set a record for fall semester

By Paula Gardner

Thumbnail image for UM Angell Hall PillarMullan.jpg
The University of Michigan set a record for the number of applications to join the freshman class this year as 39,570 people sought admission for the school year that starts this fall.

That’s an increase of 25 percent over the previous year — which also set a record.

It also came as U-M seeks to trim this year’s freshman class by about 500.

This fall’s class “is going to be smaller by design,” said Ted Spencer, associate vice provost and executive director of undergraduate admissions.

“We just don’t have enough room to take all of the great kids who apply to the University of Michigan,” Spencer said Wednesday.

About 5,970 of those seeking admission will enter U-M — or about 15 percent of the applicants.

So what does it take to get in?

“A strong (grade point average), strong test scores, leadership, great letters of recommendations,” said Spencer. “Those will distinguish students.”

In 2010, the average grade point average for incoming freshmen was 3.8, with ACT composite scores of 28-32 and an SAT total of 1960-2200 points, according to the admissions department. About 3,000 of those freshmen also earned Advanced Placement credits while in high school.

Other criteria include extracurricular activities, leadership and personal essays unique to U-M’s application, Spencer said. Taking harder classes and getting good grades in them will help, as will completing AP classes — since U-M looks at schools’ overall grade distributions in addition to how a single student fared in a class.

Even with the increase in the number of applicants, the quality of those applicants is high, Spencer added.

“The academic pool has been outstanding,” he said.

Admission is based on a review of all application materials, including The Common App, a national online application service that U-M and 414 other schools use that allows students to submit one application to multiple locations.

Making the switch generated much of the increase, Spencer said, as U-M anticipated that up to 40,000 might apply.

U-M’s admissions office hired people to process the increase in applications expected after the switch to The Common App. About 40 people process the applications, and 40 work as counselors in the admissions office, while additional “readers” go through applications when the volume is high, Spencer said.

“We wanted to make sure our readers and our counselors had enough time … to give a thorough review to every student,” he said.

A look at the 2010 freshman class shows that about 60 percent are Michigan residents, and they contributed to an overall undergraduate class of 27,027. Of those, about 1,600 were international students.

And making it into the freshman class indicates likelihood that a person will leave U-M with a degree: 96 percent return for a 2nd year and 90 percent graduate, Spencer said, compared to a 60 percent rate nationally.

Meanwhile, Ann Arbor’s high schools are among the highest contributors in Michigan toward the applicant pool, Spencer added.

Data also show that the number of minority applicants rose 14.8 percent to 4,265 — while 1,576 were offered a place in the freshman class, a 3.7 percent drop that U-M says is consistent with the overall drop in total freshman.

However, the biggest increase in applicants came from out-of-state students, Spencer said.

The reason? “We’re considered to be one of the best schools in the country,” Spencer said.

In- or out-of-state, students will pay more this fall: The rate hike is 6.7 percent for Michigan residents and 4.9 percent for out-of-state. In-state freshmen can expect to pay $12,634 for the coming school year, compared to $37,782 for non-residents.

After 20 years in admissions, Spencer said that little surprises him — except for the quality of student.

“The quality amazes me each year,” he said. “The young people applying to college, at least in Michigan, are truly the best and brightest students that I’ve ever seen.”


Christine Moellering

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

Now if we can just get the University to build more classrooms so we have a place to put all these students.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:48 p.m.

That's what online classes are for-- no more bricks& mortar.

Mr. Ed

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

You could play football and have a 1.9 GPA.


Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

lol wut?

Tom Whitaker

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

Those of us following development issues in Ann Arbor have been expecting this shoe to drop since last year when UM admitted (unintentionally) its largest freshman class in history. What impact will this targeted reduction of the size of the student body have on student housing projects currently under construction (601 Forest, Zaragon West), those being planned (The Varsity), those recently constructed (411 Lofts, Zaragon, Courtyards, Cornerhouse), as well as the thousands of rental units in houses and small buildings already existing around campus for years? UM has been taking one dorm per year offline for renovations, but that cycle will likely come to an end in the next few years, and then, another 500+ beds will be reintroduced to the overall student market. The rental market has already been soft, despite the dorm renovations and the increase in student body. The 2010 census showed that without the increase in the size of the UM student body, the population of Ann Arbor would have decreased by several thousand people during the past decade. Now that UM is deliberately working to cut back on the number of admitted students, I hope that those in leadership positions in our city will get their heads out of the clouds and stop planning for fantasy boom times (with parking structures, trains to nowhere, half-billion-dollar transit plans, etc.), and start working to improve what we already have.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 11:10 p.m.

Transit plans, parking structures a and the like are needed to improve what we already have. Of course people like you prefer we stick to horse and buggy and the congested hell that is parking on and around the UM campus. By the way, census stats take into account their primary residence. Many students count theeir hometown as their primary residence, so there is no way you can attribute a huge population shift on 500 fewer students in the incoming class as to what will happen in the future. In fact, the U may be able to handle more students once the rotation of dorm remodeling and the addition of North Quad now brings to ability the U to accept more in coming years. Planning is for the FUTURE, not for what is today. It iss why our infrastructure in Michigan is so poor. Cut taxes at the expense of keeping the state world class in roads, education and everything else.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

The Common Application seemed to increase apps by 20-25%


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

Trespass, most people would argue that college admissions should be based solely on merit - calling your state rep to get unqualified students into UM because they're from Michigan isn't going to do any good; in fact, it would dilute the quality of the education and the valye of a UM degree for the rest of the students who are qualified. Also, bringing highly qualified out-of-state students in has many advantages, ranging from creating an open, worldly learning environment where students can make connections with peers from all over the country, to the fiscal, as out-of-state students effectively subsidize the Michigan students (the in-state tuition plus state appropriations, even if you allocate every tax dollar UM gets to ugrad tuition for Michigan students, do not cover the cost of their education). I, for one, am glad that UM has the nationwide draw to attract these students. And in-state students who are not qualified to get into UM have plenty of other options - UM is the only place for higher education around here.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 11 p.m.

Trespas, Based on your math UM should only accept 20% from UM and 80% from out of state. 300 M by Michigan taxpayers and 1.1 Billion for the rest of the US taxpayers.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

UM is subsdized by more than the $300+ million in state appropriations. They get some state funding for building renovations, they get tax exemption on all of that property, which is owned by the state and they get $1.1 billion in federal grants (about $400 million of that goes to University overhead). Thus, the vast majority of the University's costs are paid for by taxpayers rather than tuition. There are also huge administrative costs that the UM refuses to cut. How much is too much for out of state students 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%? The UM is supposed to contribute to the quality of life in the state of Michigan, like having the opportunity to send your kids there for an education.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

Oops - I meant to say "UM is NOT the only place for higher education..." Freudian slip? Anyway, can we get an "edit" button for our comments?


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

Let me break this down for you... Tuition at U of M goes up. Demand for a U of M degree goes up. Supply of U of M degrees stays the same. ---------------------------------------------------------- Anyone know what will continue to happen? Raising tuition year after year, until U of M sees a regression in demand, just makes sense for them financially.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

So 40% of the incoming students are from out of state. The State legislature used to make the UM keep that number below 30% but Michigan families have lost some of their strongest advocates in the legislature. More of our students are coming from foreign countries, especially China, but this doesn't show up in these statistics because most of them are graduate students (82%). The vast majority of these graduate students are paid for by taxpayers in the form of federal grants. According to President Coleman, UM enrolls more Chinese students than any other American university. Thus, we need more legislators and Regents who will support giving Michigan residents the first opportunity for a UM education. Send a message to your representatives.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

The stereotype that Americans are not available for graduate student positions is about as reliable as &quot;mexicans are lazy&quot;. The UM testified in a recent court case that the grade point average required to get into the engineering PhD program has gone up from a B- to a B+ in the last few years. That is mostly due to an influx of Chinese students. However, the NY Times published an article about how Chinese academia and student applications are corrupted by rampant fraud. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 4:37 p.m.

The high percentage of funded Chinese (foreign) graduate students at UM is due to the following reasons: 1. Every grad school in this country has a hard time recruiting American students in science and engineering (majors mostly funded by federal and state grants). There are simply not enough of them with the passion, interests, and dedication for a career in science, technology, maths and engineering. How to increase the amount of American students in these fields is another question to be discussed. Anyway, as a result, university has to look elsewhere to recruit the best graduate students in the world, including people from China, India, Korea, etc. 2. Most of the funded Foreign graduate students are in majors of science and engineering, and are hired as teaching assistants or research assistants. For example, without the large number of TAs who grade, lecture, guide labs and hold office hours, most of the basic science class (maths, chemistry, biology, physics) at UM will have to be shut down. Another example is that RAs conduct experiments in the lab and produce results for professors to write grant proposals to bring millions of dollars to the university. How many professors you know who actually DO experiments by themselves or GRADE undergraduate homework? Those TAs and RAs are the labor horses with the almost the lowest pay in the university. Of course, without them, the university would not function as smoothly and efficiently.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

trespass, Should the legislators pressure U-M to give Michigan students first dibs, might not U-M say, &quot;Show me the money&quot;? If they did that, would it be justifiable?


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

No Mike, that's not correct. About 15% of applicants will enroll but the acceptance rate is much higher, normally on the order of 40-50% while the acceptance rate for minorities is about 37%. Only about 1/3 to 1/2 of accepted applicants actually enroll because they have been accepted to multiple schools. The story is quoting different statistics for different groups.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 10:55 p.m.

Trespas, I know the facts what change your opinion, BUT the increased number of applicants was directly attributed to out of state students. &quot;the biggest increase in applicants came from out-of-state students, &quot;. Yes it is true applying is easier now for people out of state, BUT there is still a cost involved AND if it were so easy to just apply that would mean in-state rates would increase, which they have not. The U still has a highly sought after degree nationwide. Probably more sought after in the rest of the country than to those that live in Ann Arbor and just like to whine about everything they do.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

Yes, the increased applications are a result of the common app. It is very easy to apply to multiple schools. I don't know all of the statistics for this year but in the past they were getting about 30,000 apps, accepting about 15,000, and enrolling about 6,000. Not sure what rankings you refer to but I would be cautious about those such as US News. They place great emphasis on things like faculty/student ratio and dollars/faculty member. No public school can compete in those categories. Interestingly, if you read those rankings, the reputation among peer academics is always in the top 10. I think that the fact that over a third of undergrads are out-of state speaks volumes for reputation. No other public school in the US had much over 10%.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

In other words, the whole premise of the story, that we have a record number of applicants, may just be because students are applying to more schools. The UM rankings have been falling, so it seems unlikely that we are becoming more attractive to out of state students.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 11:29 a.m.

So, over 36% of the minorities who apply are given a spot in the school while only about 17% of the remaining applicants are offered admission? How is this not discriminatory? In a society that espouses social justice and economic justice and all of the other justices, how can that happen? Doesn't seem very just to me..................Just curious...........


Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.

Accepted is different than enrolled, maybe your normative speech should be retracted....

Rodney Satterwhite

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

Minority is not a synonym for inferior or supported.