Friday, September 22, 2000

University of Cincinnati teeming with freshmen

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Freshman applications and admissions are at a 10-year high at the University of Cincinnati, reflecting in large part greater coordination between the central admissions office and UC's individual colleges.

        UC reported 5,087 freshmen on Sept. 1, an increase of 11.2 percent over last year at the same time.

        Seventy-five percent of them are from the Tristate and most are coming directly from high school to pursue four-year degrees.

        “We've been putting things into place for about the past 10 years to build up enrollment,” spokesman Greg Hand said.

        He said this week's numbers might even exceed those reported Sept. 1.

        It might be, he said, more aggressive marketing and keeping in touch with students once they express interest in UC.

        Leading the increase among the 13 colleges that admit freshmen was the College of Applied Science, up 24 percent compared to last year.

        That was a leap from 161 freshmen to 199 this year.

        Mr. Hand said he knew of nothing to explain the magnitude of the increase.

        The McMicken College of Arts & Sciences was second with a one-year increase of 21 percent, rising from 1,000 to 1,208 freshmen.

        There, however, Mr. Hand attributed the increase to the college's “aggressive marketing of a liberal arts degree as a viable option in today's technical world.”

        Third was the College-Conservatory of Music, up 19 percent or 188 freshmen, compared with 158 last year.

        This, too, is sort of a mystery, Mr. Hand said, because a surge was expected this year after completion of new CCM facilities.

        However, “it's a surge on top of surges throughout the whole construction process.”

        Fuller details about this year's freshmen will be available after the admissions rush is over and UC staff has time to take a look at the Class of '04.

        This year, UC had 11,976 freshman applications and invited 10,814 to attend.

        In 1995, UC had 9,815 applications and admitted 4,757 by Sept. 1 of that year.

        Although this is the largest freshman class in a decade, there is a potentially troubling fall in “yield” — students who enroll compared with the number accepted.

        Mr. Hand said UC is not wringing its hands because the Internet makes it easy to apply to many colleges without paying fees up front.

        This, he said, might explain the leap in applications and admissions and the fall in yield: 47 percent this year versus 54.9 percent in 1995 when the Internet was less pervasive. However, it was worse last year: 44 percent.

        Yield will be the object of UC scrutiny once school-opening demands ease, he said.

        Among the positive changes Mr. Hand said was closer coordination between the all-campus admissions office and the individual colleges that decide whether a student meets their standards and will be admitted.

        Mr. Hand said colleges, departments and programs are doing a better job of getting and staying in touch with students who express relevant interests to the admissions staff.

        And for students who aren't admitted by their chosen college, the admissions staff is doing a better job of suggesting alternatives at UC, and those colleges are picking up faster and better on the opportunities, Mr. Hand said.

        Most freshmen will pursue what traditionally were called four-year degrees and many who graduate will take five or six years.


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