Freshmen enrollment dwindles

ADMISSION New students now face more strict scrutiny when applying to attend UND.

Freshmen students at this year’s Welcome Weekend pep rally. This year’s freshman class is the smallest in several years. Photo by Keisuke Yoshimura.

UND’s newest class reflects a new approach to admissions.

After a string of record-high enrollment years at UND, this year’s student body has seen a slight decrease of approximately 0.7 percent.

The area with the biggest decrease is the 2013 freshman class, which has 449 less students than last year’s freshman class.

“Last year’s class was unusually large, with 2,357 freshmen,” UND spokesperson Peter Johnson said. “This year’s class has 1,908 but somewhere in the 1,900 to 2,000 range is typical.”

The main reason for the decrease, according to Johnson, is new policies regarding admissions standards, which were implemented for this academic year.

Freshmen who applied for the fall 2013 semester needed at least a 2.5 high school GPA or an overall GED score of 500, plus a score of 21 or higher on the ACT or 990 on the SAT, according to the university’s website.

Stricter review

The standards themselves haven’t changed this year, but in the past it was common for students who didn’t qualify to appeal for a review and then get accepted afterward. The admissions office is now being pickier with these reviews.

“Many of the students who used the review process end up dropping out,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t good for them. We want to help them avoid a (student loan) debt load that they can’t pay off.”

He added that the stricter enforcement of admissions standards also has been beneficial for the freshmen who got accepted without needing to appeal.

“They’re better prepared for academics so the old standards weren’t fair to the overall class,” Johnson said. “Most students want to be in class with other students of similar abilities so they can learn from each other on the same level.”

Freshman Maren Thompson, who was accepted without needing to appeal, is grateful for the stricter standards.

“I was a little worried when I applied since UND is such a good school, and I didn’t have a  4.0,” Thompson said. “There are a lot of hard workers in my classes, and none of my friends have been slacking off.”

Thompson, who is a social work major, described the difficulty level of her classes as “achievable — not easy, but not hard either.” She says she is “lucky” to have very helpful professors.

Thompson’s experience is the result of goals that UND President Robert Kelley has had for a few years, according to Johnson.

“(Kelley) wanted the focus to be on the quality of students rather than the quantity,” Johnson said. “This year’s freshman class has the highest overall GPA and standardized test score we’ve seen in a long time.”

Overall, Johnson agrees that quality trumps quantity when it comes to UND’s student body.

Jaye Millspaugh is the multimedia editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].