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With Common App, 'U' receives more applications

Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 23, 2011

This past fall marks the University’s first application cycle using the Common Application — a change that has resulted in more high school seniors applying to the University and more disappointments as acceptance letters arrive in the mail.

High school seniors applying to college say they were more encouraged to apply to the University of Michigan because of the University’s new use of the Common Application. Consequentially, according to University Provost Philip Hanlon, more applicants are being deferred because of a 20-percent rise in application numbers this cycle.

In an interview earlier this month, Hanlon said application numbers have increased significantly from out-of-state students. However, he said even though the University experienced an increase in applicants, it doesn’t necessarily mean more students will choose to enroll.

“(This year’s extra applicants) aren't, perhaps, as committed to (the University),” Hanlon said. “You always expect that when an application process gets harder, it's more committed people who apply.”

Hanlon said that last year the University overshot its target number of students by about 400 students, and this year the target number of students is 5,970. In last year’s admissions cycle, the University received 30,947 applicants. Of those applicants, 15,436 were offered spots at the University.

The current freshman class size — the largest to date at 6,496 students — is higher than what University officials estimated last year.

University President Mary Sue Coleman told the Michigan Daily in September that the freshman class size increase was not intended, and should be avoided this year.

The University will be especially cautious this year, Hanlon said, and more deferrals are being issued this cycle. Though the admissions office uses a calculated system to gauge the number of students to accept, Hanlon said, it is essentially a guessing game.

“You've got this decision-making process made by 18-year-olds and that's pretty random already,” he said. “We do our best.”

Hanlon said University officials weren’t caught off guard by this year’s jump in application numbers.

"Everything is kind of on track,” Hanlon said. “We're not surprised by anything right now."

Erica Sanders, director of recruitment and operations at the University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, wrote in an e-mail interview that it’s too early to tell whether the switch to the Common Application is the reason for the rise in applications.

The University made the switch to the Common Application, Sanders wrote, because the University’s contract with the previous web application vendor was set to expire this year.

“The Common Application was a great fit for our needs,” she wrote. “Many of our common cross-application schools also use the Common Application.”

The Common Application is a standardized admissions process that began in 1975 and allows a college applicant to fill out a single application that can be sent to 414 participating schools. Many of the schools, including the University, also have supplemental essay questions.

In addition to the University, 28 other schools joined the Common Application this year, including Columbia University and two international universities.