For the third straight year, the University received a record number of undergraduate admissions applications, meaning that once again, getting into this year’s freshman class was no easy feat. That sentiment was more than clear during the New Student Convocation at Crisler Arena Thursday night.

Throughout the two-hour event, University faculty and administrators routinely praised the roughly 6,500 students and family members in attendance, touting their academic strengths and offering advice for the years to come.

“I can say, without hesitation, that this year’s class is more actively engaged and academically well-qualified than any other class in the history of the University,” said Ted Spencer, associate vice provost and executive director of undergraduate admissions.

The University received 29,939 applications from prospective freshmen for the 2009-2010 academic year — an increase of 133 from the previous year. Around 92 percent of those who applied were in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, and had an average high school grade point average of 3.8. More than half had volunteered with community health programs, while 30 percent scored between 30 and 36 on the ACT.

Keeping in line with the program’s theme, “Your Time, Your Place, Your Michigan,” speakers urged students to become active participants in their undergraduate education, both inside and outside the classroom.

University President Mary Sue Coleman told students to expect new experiences during their times here and encouraged them to become a part of the academic community.

“We are constantly in pursuit of new knowledge here, and you are expected to contribute to that quest,” Coleman said. “One of the reasons you are part of this community is because of what you can offer your peers, and the diversity of cultures, beliefs and interests of our student body is limitless.”

In her speech, University Provost Teresa Sullivan recounted the advice that her former students had for the incoming class.

“Seize the opportunities available here,” she said. “Explore widely and dig deeply into areas that interest you; develop friendships that will sustain you.”

Sullivan also urged students to use the resources here, whether it be joining a student organization or meeting regularly with academic advisers.

Engineering Prof. Michael Thouless encouraged each student to avoid becoming a “passive observer from the back of the classroom,” urging each of them to meet with professors outside the classroom and participate in research.

“One day soon you will graduate at a ceremony similar to this one,” Thouless said. “The diploma you receive should be much more than just a sign that you have spent time at one of the finest institutions in the world. It should also be a sign that you have spent your time here well.”

LSA freshman Derek Yang was enthusiastic after the event and said it helped give him some guidance on what to do and what to expect during his freshman year.

“It definitely told me what I need to do in Michigan, getting some ideas about which extracurricular organizations (to join) and how to live the Michigan life,” Yang said.

E. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs, closed the night by echoing the program’s theme.

“This is your Michigan, honor it by doing your best, respect it by respecting others, serve it by being of service and do it proud,” Harper said. “Your time, use it wisely; your place, engage it; your Michigan, respect it.”

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