This year’s freshmen class, the first since a new
application was created, is larger and in some ways less diverse
than its predecessors, according to official enrollment figures
released yesterday.

Black enrollment is down, male enrollment is up, international
students have increased, and while applications overall have
declined about 18 percent, enrollment is at its highest level in
the University’s history — 6,040 students, almost 500
more than the University had predicted. Last year, the University
admitted 5,553 freshmen.

“These are things that we have not seen in the
past,” said Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic
affairs who oversees the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

The University had previously released preliminary enrollment
numbers, but the final statistics were announced yesterday.

While Monts was hesitant to attribute the numbers to any one
particular cause, he suggested that several factors could be at
play, including the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning
the LSA admissions point system and the new writing-intensive LSA
application — which could filter out those who are not truly
interested in attending.

Black enrollment this year is at its lowest level in at least
six years, numbering 350 students — down from 410 last year.
Over the past few years, the number of blacks has fluctuated, but
usually stayed above 400. This year, the University received 25
percent fewer applications from blacks, although the percentage of
accepted students that enrolled was about the same, said Theodore
Spencer, director of Undergraduate Admissions.

The number of Asian American students also decreased, from 730
to 703. But the number of Native American students increased from
38 to 61, and Hispanic enrollment also increased slightly from 255
to 264.

The most international students in the last six years, 310, also
enrolled this year, up from 220 in 2003. Given the current
political climate and the restrictions placed on immigration, Monts
said this number was cause for excitement. A number of universities
have seen declines in international student enrollment since
post-Sept. 11 policies tightened made entrance to the United States
more difficult 3 years ago.

Concerned over the decline in minority applications, the
University is redoubling its efforts to increase applications from
blacks. “Clearly, I’m disappointed about our
African-American numbers, and we need to work harder at it,”
University President Mary Sue Coleman said in an interview last
week.

The University is increasing its recruitment efforts in areas
like Detroit and developing targeted campaigns to reach out to high
school counselors and families of minorities. In these areas, Monts
said, the University has had to compete with other institutions
like Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

“We were thrown for a loop,” Monts said.

As part of the University’s recruitment efforts, Coleman
will be the main speaker at two events in Detroit, and the
admissions office will be increasing its contacts with
“minority-serving high schools” in such cities as Grand
Rapids and Flint.

Some campus activists say applications from blacks decreased
because of last year’s strained campus climate. Last
semester, dozens of University students staged protests and
demonstrations, citing that the University did not take diversity
seriously. Several students claimed that the University was not
hospitable to minorities.

One of their main concerns was the William Monroe Trotter House,
whose dilapidated condition spurred the University to provide some
initial funding to renovate it. “A lot of people decided to
go to Michigan State because of the climate,” Education
graduate student Kate Stenvig said, who works regularly with black
high school students in Detroit through BAMN. “I definitely
hold the University responsible for it, because they just
haven’t done enough to make it clear that students on the
campus do want an integrated class.”

But application numbers have decreased at several universities
across the country, administrators said, citing both Indiana
University and Ohio State University. “There’s
something going on that moves beyond the University of
Michigan,” Monts said.

Since more students decided to go to the University this year,
despite fewer people applying, the University may need to lower its
enrollment rate for the next year. Monts said this may or may not
result in lower admissions rates. The year’s admission rate
was 62 percent, up from 53 percent the previous year and 49 percent
the year before.

Even though the high yield rate suggests that more students are
willing to come to the University when accepted, Monts stressed
that this is only one year’s set of data, and that the
admissions office will have to look at trends.

The admissions office bases its enrollment rates, in part, on
the number of students each college or department can hold. So if
the University accepts the higher number of students who want to
enroll, the importance of state funding is crucial, University
Provost Paul Courant said. “This growth in our enrollment
underscores the need for a much stronger level of funding support
from the state,” Courant said in a written statement.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has expressed her desire to increase the
number of college graduates in the state, but the state’s
contribution to the University’s general fund has dipped to
29 percent, the lowest in more than 40 years. Given the trends in
state funding, it is unlikely that this funding will be fully
restored.

 

Class profile

Black enrollment, at 350 students, is the lowest in at least six
years

The number of Native American and Hispanic students increased
slightly, while Asian-Americans decreased

The most international students in six years, 310, enrolled this
year

Applications overall dropped by about 18 percent, but because a
higher percentage of students enrolled the freshman class is the
largest in history

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.