Since the University revised its admissions process after last
year’s lawsuits, the number of applications from
underrepresented minorities is down 23 percent, while total
applications dropped 18 percent.
“We knew this year would have challenges,” said
Associate Director of Admissions Chris Lucier. “But I’m
reassured that the students we’re admitting now are really
strong and qualified.”
Because these numbers are still preliminary, they do not include
the most recent applicants, such as the 1,800 applications received
Jan. 30 and on the deadline, Feb. 1. One reason for the unusually
large influx of applications near the deadline is the number of
online applications, Lucier said.
Underrepresented minorities — blacks, Hispanics and Native
Americans — sent 2,322 applications last year and 1,790
applications this year.
At this time last year the University had received 24,447 total
applications, while during the 2003-2004 academic year, it received
only 20,125 applications. These numbers are not problematic, said
Director of Admissions Ted Spencer. 20,000 applications is actually
the typical amount the University receives in a year, while the
25,000 applicants of the past years represent “boom
years” in terms of total applications received, he said.
Although minority applications have decreased according to the
numbers calculated so far, the Office of University Admissions said
experience dictates that “underrepresented minorities tend to
apply toward the end of the admissions cycle,” and the large
number of applications they have not yet processed may close the
gap between the decline in total applicants and minority
University officials also speculates that the fear of a racially
divisive campus atmosphere derived from the Michigan Civil Rights
Initiative — which would ban race-conscious in government
policies, such as public university admissions — has
discouraged prospective applicants. Similarly, misunderstanding
over the outcome of last year’s admissions lawsuits may have
discouraged minority students from applying.
“It’s time to communicate to prospective students
that part of the decision was a victory,” said University
spokeswoman Julie Peterson. “We need to let students of color
know that we want them to be here.”
To convey that the University still seeks a diverse student
body, the OUA will continue to emphasize its outreach programs that
focus on reaching underrepresented racial and socioeconomic student
groups across the country. This year’s outreach programs held
by OUA include trips to 500 schools within Michigan and out of
state 144 schools.
“We need more time to work with schools, parents and
organizations … to explain how uncomplicated the application
process really is,” Spencer said.
Spencer also warns that application figures are not necessarily
related directly to enrollment figures. Continual high attendance
at prospective student programs like Campus Day indicate that
despite less applicants, students are still just as likely to
enroll in the University, he said.
The University is not the only school that has experienced a
decreased number of applicants. Nationwide, students are applying
to fewer colleges than in years past, Spencer said. Admissions
offices from Michigan State University and the Ohio State
University also report overall declines in applications.
According to what the admissions office has gathered from high
school counselors, the decrease in applications can be attributed
to students discouraged by the more extensive application and the
distribution of the new application a month later than usual.
The statistics also show that applications from Michigan
residents are down 12 percent and nonresidents are down 21 percent.
Peterson stressed that all these numbers are much too preliminary
for close scrutiny and that figures compiled in the summer would be
more indicative of the state of University admissions.