U-M enrollment remains steady in 2008-09

October 20, 2008
  • umichnews@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR—Enrollment on the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus remained constant in fall 2008 with 41,028 students, 14 fewer students than last year, according to the U-M Office of the Registrar. The number of graduate/professional students increased by 0.5 percent. Undergraduates decreased by 0.3 percent.

Overall enrollment of underrepresented minority students fell in relatively small numbers in this first full admissions cycle following the 2006 passage of Proposal 2 in Michigan. The University remains cautiously optimistic that its unprecedented outreach efforts seem to have moderated loses in minority enrollment and have the potential to help support a rebound in coming years.

The total enrollment of all students includes a freshman class of 5,783 students, a 3.5 percent decrease from the previous year. In recent years, the number of entering freshmen exceeded U-M’s ideal class size by several hundred. This year’s incoming class is closer to the preferred size of 5,710. This allows the university to maintain a relatively constant undergraduate student body population, an important component of quality instruction.

Freshman applications for 2008 were up 8.5 percent to a record-setting 29,814. Reflecting University efforts to manage the size of the 2008 entering class, admissions were down 9.1 percent, and the yield rate?the percentage of admitted students who ultimately enrolled?was 46 percent, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year. Increased applications and an intentionally smaller entering class size meant that the selection process was one of the most competitive ever.

The incoming freshman class is almost evenly divided between men and women. Approximately 1667 high schools, all 50 states and 72 countries are represented.

“The University of Michigan continues to attract the most talented students, and this year’s incoming class is no exception,” said President Mary Sue Coleman. “We have worked extremely hard to build a diverse class that reflects the world around us and makes for the best possible learning environment.”

Reflecting the reduction in size of the entire incoming class, underrepresented minority freshmen numbers also are reduced. When calculated as part of the smaller incoming class size, the percentage of underrepresented minority freshmen declined from 11.4 percent to 10.9 percent, 47 fewer than last year.

The 2007-2008 admissions process was the first full cycle conducted in accordance with adoption of Proposal 2 by Michigan voters in November 2006. The amendment to Michigan’s Constitution bans public institutions from discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, ethnicity or national origin. In compliance with Proposal 2, U-M did not consider those factors within the holistic admissions review process throughout the admissions season, which began in September 2007.

“Underrepresented minority student enrollment has plummeted at several major public universities operating under similar laws in other states,” said Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts. “We have worked hard to reach out aggressively to prospective students, to be sure they are aware of U-M’s ongoing commitment to diversity. And we are cautiously optimistic that the steps we are taking, within current law, are working well. We will build on this year’s successes as we continue to secure the best qualified and diverse applicant pool in the country.”

Added Coleman, “While we are pleased with holding our own with regard to enrolling underrepresented students, we cannot become complacent in our diversity efforts. There is still much work to do.”

U-M has become one of the top public universities in the world because its diversity helps attract top students and faculty whose differing experiences and views contribute directly to the University’s prolific academic environment, Monts says. This is supported by critical gauges, like graduation rates, scholarly production, national and international rankings of academic programs, and the number of applications for admission.

Several procedures have been implemented to encourage a diverse incoming class, including use of the College Board’s geodemographic tool, Descriptor PLUS, and expedited admissions and financial aid processes. Continuing its ongoing commitment to make a U-M education affordable for all admitted state residents, significant University funds have been made available with the 2007 kick-off of the Michigan Tradition and Michigan Experience awards, and the ongoing M-PACT grant program, which began in 2005.

Led by Coleman, U-M faculty, students, staff, administrators, and alumni have engaged in unparalleled levels of personal outreach to invite students to apply and, when admitted, to enroll.

The University is focusing on improving the pipeline of students interested in applying to U-M by engaging students at earlier ages. U-M’s new Center for Educational Outreach and Academic Success helps support this effort by engendering partnerships between the University and K-12 schools and community-based educational organizations.

The smaller 2008 freshman class includes 374 (6.8 percent) African American students, a 1.0 percent increase over last year. Hispanic Americans represent 3.6 percent of the class, or 199 students. This is a decline of 1.1 percent from last year. Thirty-one Native American students (0.6 percent) entered the University this year as freshmen, a drop of 19 from last year. The number of Asian American freshmen decreased by 71 to 686, or 12.4 percent of the freshman class. Freshmen identifying as white made up 68.5 percent or 3,796 of the total class, an increase of 55 from last year. Non-resident aliens account for 245 freshmen.

Throughout the entire student body, the number of African American students declined by 2.3 percent, the number of Hispanic Americans by 5.4 percent, the number of white students increased by 0.2 percent, the number of Native American students declined by 14.3 percent and the number of Asian American students decreased by 1.9 percent.

“We believe we are on the right track to maintain both excellence and diversity in our student community,” said Theodore Spencer, associate vice provost and executive director of undergraduate admissions. “While we’ve done better than many of our peer schools in comparable circumstances, the impact of this first full year of Proposal 2 is reflected in the current year’s enrollment numbers,” Spencer said. “With the experience we’ve gained, we are moving forward to do even better next year.”

This year’s freshmen excel both in scholarly achievement and civic engagement. While in high school, 43 percent were elected to one or more student government offices and more than one-third of the class received all-city, all-league, all-county, or all-state awards in athletics. Nearly 75 percent of the class participated in civic projects, 43 percent participated in programs to assist children or adults with disabilities, and 45 percent received an award for community service.

Fifty-six percent presented musical recitals at places such as Carnegie Hall while still in high school, and 31 percent have published poems, stories, essays, and articles, or have worked as editors of their high school newspapers or yearbooks. And notably, 15 percent of incoming freshmen started their own business while still in high school.

The average high school GPA for the entering class is 3.80. Approximately 1,400 members achieved a perfect 4.0. More than 92 percent of freshmen ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class. Well over 50 percent of the class enters U-M with college credit from Advanced Placement tests. Fifteen freshmen attained a total perfect score of 1600 on the SAT and 286 U-M freshmen achieved a perfect score of 36 on one or more sections of the ACT.

“Our new freshman class is incredible,” said Sabrina Shingwani, president of the Michigan Student Assembly, U-M’s student government. “I am happy to be among the first to welcome them to our student community and to encourage them to make the most of the amazing resources available at the University.”

Related links:

Fall 2008 enrollment

Fall 2008 freshman enrollment by gender and race

Fall 2008 overall enrollment (Excel file)

Fall 2008 freshman enrollment (Excel file)