Although the number of applications that the University has
received is down 18 percent from last year, administrators have
several reasons to remain optimistic about the quality and quantity
of students from the incoming freshmen class.
“The interest in the University is higher than we thought and
better than expected,” Director of Undergraduate Admissions Ted
According to a statement released yesterday, despite the
decreased applications, the number of paid enrollment deposits that
the admissions office has received is up eight percent – 6,571
deposits compared to 6,060 from last year.
If this trend continues, the University expects to yield a
larger total than their freshman enrollment target of 5,545.
Spencer described the incoming class as “one of the largest
enrollments we’ve ever had,” and called the quality of the incoming
class “as strong as other years and perhaps even stronger.” Quality
refers to the overall student enrollment average of high school
grades, standardized test scores and class ranking, Spencer
The projected large influx of students has other departments at
the University anticipating changes for the next academic year.
Although an increase in enrollment is “always a variable
(housing contends) with in the summer,” Director of Housing Public
Affairs Alan Levy said “it may be more pronounced this year.”
While numbers for housing applications are even more preliminary
than enrollment, Levy said the department already has contingency
plans for student overflow, which include permanent and temporary
housing. The University guarantees housing to every first-year
student who applies within deadline.
Last year, housing ran at over 100 percent capacity for female
living quarters, and to compensate, converted pre-designated
lounges, with all amenities such as a phone and Ethernet, into
rooms. Levy said similar actions may be taken for a
larger-than-predicted enrollment this year.
“As the numbers firm up, we’ll know one way or another,” Levy
Similarly, schools such as the College of Literature Science and
Arts and Engineering are making plans to open additional course
sections as needed, and student services such as orientation will
be adjusted to accommodate a larger incoming class, said University
spokeswoman Julie Peterson.
“We are doing everything we need to do so when students arrive
in the fall, they will have the classes they want to take and space
to live in the campus area,” Spencer said. “Plans are underway to
accommodate our students, and we are going to make sure they have a
quality experience while they’re here.”
Peterson also emphasized that the numbers for paid enrollment
are not the same as those for student enrollment – each year, there
are a number of students who pay the deposit but later decide not
to attend the University.
These numbers are only “close to final,” and the official
figures will not be available until after the third week of classes
in the fall, Peterson added.
The University attributes the significant change in application
and enrollment numbers to several factors, including the revised
As of May 16, 2004, the University received 21,261 applications
compared to the 25,918 received at the same time last year.
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision that LSA’s
admissions policies were unconstitutional, the University adjusted
its application to include three essays and more personal
information from the applicant.
“People chose not to apply to Michigan because of the additional
essays that we required,” Spencer speculated. “For students that
Michigan was not their first choice, they might not have elected to
do the application.”
Other colleges, like Ohio State University, who also altered
their admissions process, have seen decreases in applications. In
response to the Supreme Court’s decision, OSU added four short
essays to an application that previously required no writing.
Total applications are down 15 percent from last year at OSU,
said Mabel Freeman, OSU’s assistant vice president for
undergraduate admissions. Freeman also describes the incoming class
as the “strongest academic pool of students ever.”
Additionally, OSU reports that applications from black students
are down 28 percent and down two percent for Hispanic students.
At the University of Michigan, applications from
underrepresented minority students are down about 21 percent –
three percent more than the total applicant pool.
Peterson said the discrepancy between all students and
underrepresented minorities is a result of the relatively small
pool of minority applicants. Small changes in numbers can create
large changes in percentages, she said.
Peterson also attributes the decrease in applications to the
national trend of individual students applying to fewer
“It makes sense that as college applications become more
demanding, students will be less inclined to fill out a large
number of them,” she said.
Following this trend, Michigan State University, who made modest
changes to their application such as a recommended personal
statement, saw their applications decrease by 14 percent, MSU’s
Director of Admissions Pamela Horne said.