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An orientation leader in front of a group of students.

An orientation leader gives a group of first-year students a tour of the Twin Cities campus. New Student Orientation, which includes two days of orientation during the summer with an overnight stay at a residence hall, is one of many programs the U has implemented to enhance the freshman experience.

Applications to the U up 30 percent

December 9, 2005

Freshman applications to the Twin Cities campus for fall 2006 are currently up 30 percent from a year ago. The University has received almost 4,000 additional applications, and it expects to receive approximately 23,500 applications for a freshman class of 5,300. This would mean a fourth straight record year for freshman applications.

"The large increase in the number of applications for fall 2006 is gratifying because it means that our goal to become one of the top three public research universities is resonating with parents and students," says President Robert Bruininks. "Students are increasingly making the University a top choice because it offers a great education and undergraduate experience."

Over the past decade, freshman applications to the Twin Cities campus have increased by more than 70 percent, while the number of high school graduates in Minnesota has increased by only 20 percent. University enrollment by students of color in the freshman class increased by 65 percent since 1992. These application numbers show that students recognize what the U offers, says Provost Tom Sullivan, "and that includes a wide range of areas in which to major and the opportunity to study with top faculty."

Additionally, students may be drawn to the University's dedication to the undergraduate experience--and especially the first-year experience. Since 1995, the Twin Cities campus has deliberately and quite successfully undergone a "freshman transformation." First-year students enjoy, among the many enhancements, a revitalized student union (Coffman Memorial Union), a new student welcome center (Jones Hall) and summer orientation session, online class registration and financial aid services, the MyU Portal, and freshmen seminars--small, discussion-based courses on intriguing topics taught by faculty members. According to a comprehensive survey of first-year students in 1999, 94 percent of students said they were satisfied with their overall college experience, and 84 percent noted that if they could start over, they would still choose to attend the University of Minnesota.

Freshman profile

Not only has the number of applications risen dramatically in the last few years, but freshmen are also much better prepared. This year, nearly 74 percent of incoming students were in the top 25 percent of their high school class, Sullivan said, and the percentage of freshmen in the top 5 percent of their high school class continued to increase, reaching 19.1 percent this year.

The University's admission policies are designed to enhance the likelihood that admitted students would be retained and graduate in a timely manner. The policy also ensures that the University keeps new-student enrollment reasonably in line with the resources available to serve them, such as advising, course availability, and campus housing.

All student applications are individually reviewed, and admission decisions are based on an overall assessment of each application. Because the University has received almost 4,000 more applications than last year, decisions will be mailed within ten weeks, rather than six, as previously planned. Students who submit a complete application by the December 15 deadline will be sent a decision no later than March 1, 2006.

"We are extremely grateful for the very strong interest in the University and don't take applicants' interest for granted," says Wayne Sigler, director of admissions. "We very much respect that applicants are eager to receive a decision on their applications and we are committed to making certain that all students receive very careful, respectful, and fair decisions on their applications. We are working overtime, including weekends, to send out decisions as quickly as possible while at the same time ensuring that applicants are given the careful consideration they deserve."