Common App adds to spike in applicants

By Paige Pearcy, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 23, 2011

With more applications pouring in due to the University’s switch to the Common Application last year, admissions at the University are getting more competitive.

During last year’s admissions cycle, the University received a record number of applicants for this year’s freshman class. The University received a record 39,584 applications — a 25-percent increase, according to enrollment data released last Thursday.

Rob Killion, executive director of The Common Application, Inc., wrote in an e-mail interview that the University of Michigan’s application numbers have been increasing every year and would have likely increased again without the use of the Common Application. But because the increase was so large, Killion wrote, “it's understandable to draw the inference that a lot of that was due to the Common Application.”

The University was the 55th public university and the 12th public flagship university to join the Common Application when it switched to the application process last fall.

“Michigan was our first public flagship outside the East Coast to join,” Killion wrote. “We were delighted to have them.”

According to Killion, students submitted the Common Application to more schools during the last admissions cycle than in the 2009-2010 cycle, with the average rising from 4.06 to 4.15 applications per person.

In addition, the University’s enrollment this semester is 42,716 students — the largest in the school's history. The University attributes the record high enrollment to an increase in both undergraduate and graduate students by 1.4 and 2.8 percents, respectively.

The data shows that the University accepted the same number of students as in 2010, but freshman enrollment decreased 3.8 percent from 6,496 to 6,251 students this year.

University Provost Philip Hanlon said the University had a target of 5,960 students for its 2011 entering freshman class, which is the same target as the year before.

"In an ideal world, we would've hit 5960 and we would've been 400 or 500 down from the previous fall," Hanlon said. "It's not easy to manage a process of 18-year-old's decision making."

Last year’s freshman class totaled 6,496 students — more than the University anticipated.

“It's not easy to manage a process of 18-year-olds’ decision making,” Hanlon said.

Lester Monts, the University’s senior vice provost for academic affairs, wrote in a University press release last week that the freshman class has already impressed the faculty. The class of 2015 has an average high school grade point average of 3.8, and more than 34 percent of freshmen scored between 31 and 36 on the ACT.

“The entering class of 2011 represents the highest levels of academic achievement and potential,” Monts wrote.

Michigan State University’s enrollment numbers went up this year as well. Though it doesn’t use the Common Application, MSU received a record 28,547 applications — about 11,000 fewer applicants than the University of Michigan — and admitted a larger freshman class, totaling 7,775 students. MSU’s total enrollment increased from last to 47,800 — up by almost 700 students.