In-state students get better grades than out-of-state students in high school, but out-of-state students have higher grade point averages at the University.
According to an analysis of the 2007 freshman class, students from the state of Michigan had an average high school GPA of 3.8, while out-of-state students earned a 3.67.
Out-of-state students currently studying at the University are doing slightly better than their in-state counterparts. They have a 3.25 GPA on average while in-state students have a 3.21 average.
Erica Sanders, the University’s associate director of admissions, said differences in curriculum might explain the gap between in-state and out-of-state applicants’ GPAs.
Some schools offer more challenging classes than others. Sanders wouldn’t say whether applicants from in or out of state have taken heavier course loads.
She also said that in the context of the entire application, both in-state and out-of-state students are equally qualified.
The University’s admissions office aims to enroll about 70 percent in-state students and 30 percent out-of-state students each year, Sanders said.
“There has always been very much support and recognition that we are a state and public institution,” Sanders said. “We have a responsibility to the citizens of the state of Michigan to have representation.”
But Sanders said that the ratio is simply a goal.
“There are no quotas for enrollment on our campus at all,” she said.
Sanders said the admissions process is focused on the individual and that the applicant’s home state doesn’t factor into the way the application is reviewed.
She said that while the University aims to enroll a diverse freshmen class – including students from all over the state of Michigan and from all 50 states – academic preparedness trumps location.
About 63 percent of last year’s freshman class came from Michigan. In 2002, 64.7 percent of Michigan’s freshmen were in-state students. The number decreased to 60.5 percent in 2005.
Sanders said discrepancies between the goal of enrolling 70 percent in-state students and the actual number, which in recent years has fallen in the mid-to-low 60 range, can be explained by out-of-state students accepting or rejecting offers from the University at different rates.
Factors like the cost of out-of-state tuition and students’ desires to stay close to home play into the decision, Sanders said.
“Some years they will accept the offer at a higher rate than others, so that often impacts the number of students who enroll,” she said.
Ninety-two percent of students in the University of California at Berkeley’s 2007 freshman class are from California and 68 percent of students in the University of Virginia’s freshman class are from Virginia.
John Blackburn, the dean of admissions at the University of Virginia, said it’s harder for out-of-state students to gain admission because there are more applicants for each available spot.
“The out-of-state class profile is slightly stronger,” he said. “It’s just tougher.”
LSA freshman Neil Hughes from Portage, Mich., said he thinks in-state students are more prepared because of their close proximity to the University.
“In-state students have more of a feel for what U of M has to offer,” he said. “We hear a lot more about what to expect.”
At the same time, out-of-state students might have more motivation to succeed because they’re traveling from farther away and paying more for their education, he said.
But one student said he thought most high schools – both in Michigan and elsewhere – don’t prepare students for the University.
“If you’re talking about education-wise, neither one is ready,” said LSA junior Daniel Straka.