In a press release issued last week, the University announced that it received a record number of applications — 31,599 in total — from the incoming freshman class for the fourth consecutive year.

With 15,979 of those applicants being offered admission as of Jun. 1, the press release projected that 6,350 students will begin classes as freshmen in the fall, setting an all-time record for freshman class size at the University and topping last year’s enrollment numbers by some 300 students.

Erica Sanders, the director of recruitment and operations for the University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, weighed in on the implications of an unusually large incoming class for the University community.

Sanders said the record number of projected freshman for the 2010-2011 academic year is an anomaly at the school, and while it reveals an increasing level of prestige for the University, the increase in the size of the campus community was not the goal of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

“Admissions have been competitive to the University of Michigan for a number of years,” Sanders said. “We look for a vibrant class of students the University can learn from and teach to explore many different academic opportunities. But large volume isn’t really our goal.”

The University confirmed in the press release that 6,900 students out of those who have been accepted have paid their enrollment deposits thus far — a 43.2 percent yield rate of those accepted to the University.

With the possibility that some students who have already submitted enrollment deposits will eventually decide not to attend the University, the projected size reaches its current number of 6,350 students.

As a result of the increased size in the freshman class, Sanders noted that the University is in the process of making sure all students will be properly accommodated in the fall.

“The University has created a working group to make sure incoming students have a good year next year,” she said. “From making sure the dining halls will be able to serve everyone … to the availability of classes.”

Sanders said that the management of the admissions process “is more of an art than a science” in working to eliminate any possible problems in the application and enrollment process for prospective students and their families.

But Sanders said some factors, like the economy, are out of the hands of admissions officers. For that aspect, Sanders said the University works to ease the financial burden of paying for college.

“The University responded to concerns families had,” she said. “The Office of Financial Aid worked to provide individual assistance with planning to ease any financial concerns.”

In their meeting last month, the University’s Board of Regents voted to approve a 1.5-percent tuition increase for in-state students and a 3-percent tuition increase for out-of-state students. The in-state tuition increase is the smallest approved by the Board of Regents in 26 years.

Sanders said she believes the University’s choice to present a more modest increase in tuition has helped to ease the concerns of those preparing to pay for new students’ educations.

The University is not the only school to have a growing applicant pool, according to Sanders, who said she believes students are beginning to apply to a greater number of colleges and that the overall college application volume is up.

The University also announced its official switch to the Common Application for students considering applying to the University in future years.

Sanders said while the ultimate decision to switch to the Common Application happened in the Office of Admissions, the decision was also supported by the University’s executives.

Ted Spencer, executive director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and associate vice provost for the University, said the desire to improve the overall application process led the Office of Admissions to join the Common Application network.

“U-M decided to join the Common Application because we are always looking for ways to do better,” Spencer said in the press release. “Especially in these challenging economic times, we are looking for ways to do better with less. We believe the Common App will streamline the application process for students, teachers, and counselors.”

Sanders added that while the use of the Common Application could initially save the Office of Admissions money, it is too early to determine if the application network will ultimately be a source of financial savings.

“It’s too early to tell,” Sanders said. “Reports from peer schools indicate an increase in applications, and the savings in application vendor may mean additional money spent for processing.”

The University’s use of the Common Application network will begin Aug. 1, marking the first day applications for the 2011-2012 school year may be submitted, according to the press release.

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