Though it is early in the application process, statistics show an increase in the number of applicants to the University for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Compared to statistics from this time last year, applications are up 4.9 percent overall. Applications from in-state students have increased 6.6 percent, and applications from out-of-state students are up 3.1 percent and international applications have increased by 7.7 percent.

In an interview yesterday, University Provost Teresa Sullivan said the numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt, since it is somewhat early in the University’s admissions process.

“I think it’s still a little bit too early (to read that closely into the numbers),” she said. “A lot of students still don’t have their answers from all the schools they’ve applied to. So we’ll have a better sense as we start to see the acceptances come back in.”

Philip Hanlon, vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs, said the statistics are only comparable to the numbers from this time last year, and not to the final 2009 admissions statistics.

Hanlon said the yield — the percentage of admitted students who send in their deposit — decreased between two and four percent for students who applied to enroll in the 2009-2010 academic year, which is a significant percentage for the University.

But he added that he expects the yield for the 2010-2011 academic year to go back up to the level of previous years.

“Not all of (the admitted students) will show up in the fall, but all the information we have right now is who has paid the deposit,” Hanlon said. “We compare that to prior years. (We look at) the same week last year, (and see) what was the fraction who paid the deposit of the admitted students.”

The University received 29,965 applications for the 2009-2010 academic year, and admitted 14,970. Of those students that were accepted, 6,079 enrolled at the University last fall.

Hanlon said he believes there will be a record number of applicants to the University this year.

“The larger number of applications is just a trend we’ve seen every year,” he said. “Every year we’ve been getting more applications. What we certainly hope is that it’s because people are recognizing we’re an excellent university.”

Despite the increase in the number of new students who enrolled at the University last fall and the increasing number of underrepresented minority students admitted to the University, the number of underrepresented minority students enrolling decreased 11.4 percent last year from the previous year.

Sullivan said she is well aware of the gap between white and underrepresented minority students. She said last year she appointed Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs, and Deborah Lowenberg Ball, dean of the School of Education, to lead a task force to investigate the reasons for this discrepancy.

“We wanted to know if this is principally a lack of financial resources,” Sullivan said. “Is it a result of minority students deciding we’ve got the wrong kind of program and they want to transfer somewhere else? We didn’t really have a very good understanding of what the origin of this gap was.”

Sullivan continued by saying the University can help address this gap by marketing itself more as a viable option to underrepresented minority students in high school and middle school.

“We also think that some of these students may get steered away from U of M by counselors or others who aren’t aware of our policies,” she said. “It’s not just a matter of doing a better education job, but a matter of where the education job needs to be headed. Is it at the student applicant? Is it at the parents of the student? Is it at the high school counselor who told them where to apply to start with? We’re thinking about all three of those levels in terms of doing a better job of getting the word out.”

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