UM applications rise 10%, another record high

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
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Students walk through The Diag on the University of Michigan's campus in this June 15, 2017, file photo. A record number of hopeful Wolverines have buried the University of Michigan in freshman applications for the upcoming fall semester.


A record number of hopeful Wolverines buried the University of Michigan in freshman applications for the upcoming fall semester.

The University of Michigan Office of Undergraduate Admissions reviewed 65,684 freshmen applications  — a 10.6 percent increase from last year’s record 59,407, officials said.

The Ann Arbor school's application volume has increased every year for the last 12 years, said university spokesman Don Jordan. In 2016 and 2017, the university saw 7 percent increase in applications. 

The university has increased its part-time application reader staff this year with former educators and professionals to handle the volume, said Erica Sanders, UM director of undergraduate admissions.

University President Mark Schlissel said despite the sizable increase in applicants, no prospective student is overlooked. 

"We have a very high-functioning admission process where multiple people read every application, and we look at that student, so we don’t simply rely on numbers," Schlissel told The News on Friday.

"We look at that student and all that they’ve accomplished and all that they would bring to our learning community so students learn from each other, and we develop a holistic view and go through the very difficult exercise of winnowing through tens of thousands of applications to end up with a class of about 6,600 incoming freshmen.”

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel speaks at a press conference in this October 31, 2014, file photo. UM has received a record number of freshman applications for the upcoming fall semester. University President Mark Schlissel said despite the sizable increase in applicants, no prospective student is overlooked.

As of May, the university's overall acceptance rate was 23.5 percent. More than 15,400 students were offered admission, and 6,600 freshmen are enrolled for the fall semester on Sept. 4. 

UM's admission shows  in-state applications are on the rise. Of the 65,684 applications, 12,521 were submitted by in-state students and 5,141 were offered admission — a 41.1 percent acceptance rate. Schlissel said part of growth is in response to the success of the Go Blue Guarantee, a financial aid program granting students from family incomes below $65,000 in state free four-year tuition.

Among the 44,014 out-of-state applicants and 9,149 living outside the United States, 10,327 were offered admission for an out-of-state acceptance rate of 19.4 percent.

The increase of interest in UM is attributed to its academic reputation, completion rate, value for students, job placement and "by many criteria, we're the top public university in the United States," Schlissel said.

Also adding to boom in applications, UM opened up its application process through the Coalition Application last fall. It allows a single application to reach more than 90 public and private institutions, helping low-income and underrepresented students get financial support. 

Michigan State University, meanwhile, saw a decrease of 3,000 freshman applications this year, for a total of 33,132. Of the applicants, 18,846 were from Michigan and 14,052 of those were offered admission, said Mike Cook, senior associate director of admissions at MSU. 

"We saw a slight decrease in applications and in-state applicants were about the same as last year," Cook said. 

The decrease was because of a shortage of international student applications, said James Cotter, executive director of admissions and recruitment at MSU. 

Out-of-state applications fell by 4 percent and international applications fell by 30 percent, Cotter said. Of 14,286 out-of-state applicants, 11,600 were offered admission — 1,000 less than last year.

The number of international students, who made up 6,661 of MSU’s enrollment last fall, was only expected to drop by 108 students when MSU officials discussed projections in April.

"The decrease can be attributed largely to an international phenomenon that began two years ago," Cotter said. "It has to do with the overall climate in the U.S. right now and is reflective of the national atmosphere."

Cotter said applications don't reflect issues facing the university in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal.

"Most of our applications are finalized by November and Nassar's case came to the head after the New Year. ... If there were an impact, it would more likely be in the fall of 2019, not '18," Cotter said. "We're up over 100,000 (inquiries from prospective students for fall 2019), a 10-year high and we're excited for this following year."

Michigan State University has more than a 2 percent increase in freshman enrollment over last year and expects its incoming freshmen class to be the largest and most diverse in the school's history, the university said in May

Cotter said the university, which had 50,019 students enrolled in fall 2017, also will be joining the Common Application, which allows students to submit one uniform application to up to 700 different colleges and universities. 

"We're not expecting a decrease next year (in applications) since most institutions see a significant jump upon joining the Common Application," said Cotter, who added the decision was made a year ago. "Virtually everyone in the Big 10 is there and just felt right."

Read more: MSU to welcome largest, most diverse freshman class

More than 8,400 freshmen are expected for the 2018-19 academic year at MSU. 

Fall classes begin Aug. 30.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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