BY COLLEEN HUBER
Admission rates for the current academic year were higher than 2012-13. Last years numbers were at 77 percent for in-state students and 80 percent for out-of-state students. The University of Mary Washington admitted 81 percent of in-state students and 82 percent of out-of-state students for the 2013-14 academic year, according to Forbes.
The percentage consistently rose over the past decade. In the 2007-08 academic year, UMW admitted just over 70 percent.
The average GPA of the newest class was 3.53, compared to the 3.6 average of last years freshman class. The SAT score also fell, with the average score being 1112 compared with the 1137 average last year.
The UMW admissions committee reviewed 4,505 freshman applications and offered 3,625 of those applicants admission. Of those accepted, 954 students enrolled for the 2013-12 academic year, according to the admissions page on the UMW website.
The freshman class came from 24 different states outside of Virginia. The largest groups of students came from Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, according to admissions.
According to Jonathan Levin, university provost, UMW is facing more competition, as Christopher Newport University (CNU) and James Madison University (JMU) bring in more students. To contest with the competition, UMW is increasing the number of students admitted. As a result, the freshman class has grown modestly.
However, Levin said it is not a goal of UMW to increase the population size. The Enrollment Management and Retention Committee at UMW are tasked with managing other factors, including creating a more diverse student body and focusing on retention efforts.
Levin said UMW wants to increase the number of out-of-state students to enhance diversity and also support revenue goals. The number of out-of-state students significantly decreased over the past 10 to 15 years, according to Levin. This year, 10 percent of the freshman class came from out-of-state, a decrease from the 16 percent last year.
Maryland has always been the strongest feeder state for incoming students, according to Levin.
“We are focusing on Montgomery County because our demographic analysis suggests that there are many prospective students there who match the profile of students from out of state who have been admitted and enrolled at UMW,” said Levin.
UMW is also trying to strengthen recruitment and retention of transfer students, according to Levin.
Along with out-of-state and transfer students, UMW aims to create diversity by increasing the international student population. The goal, according to Levin, is to increase the international population by 100 to 150 percent.
“There have only been 10-15 new international students annually; we’re hoping to get that to 30 students annually,” said Levin.
The goal, according to Levin, is to manage who is a part of the UMW population. By bringing in a larger population of out-of-state, transfer and international students, the goal is to bring the percent of admitted students down. Levin aims to attain this goal within two to three years. This angle will take some pressure off of the traditional recruitment, according to Levin.
Despite what the numbers suggest, Levin said UMW is maintaining its selectivity, but would like to increase its distinction along with the academic profile.
“We have seen some declines,” said Levin. “Slow and steady over the course of several years. We are still recruiting students within the same SAT range.”
However, Levin said UMW is a little challenged to bring students in that are at the top of that SAT range. One of the crucial reasons for this is the amount of competition with other in-state institutions.
“We need to market it more effectively,” said Levin. “We are retesting some of our marketing material.”
The marketing factor that Levin wants to push most is the academic profile of UMW. He said his goal is for the world outside of UMW to know what students are doing during their time at UMW and what they are achieving once they graduate from UMW.
“We have a lot of good material but want to sharpen the academic material to reach students in the top of our range,” said Levin.
Levin would like to see the percent of admitted students remain even or to be reduced.
“My hope is for this year [the acceptance rate] is going to remain flat,” said Levin. “I would love to get it under 80 percent, but, realistically, this thing takes years.”
By working on different ways to present UMWs academic profile to perspective students, Levin is optimistic about the results.
“My expectation is that we will see that rate come down,” said Levin. He hopes to get the rate under 70 percent three years from now.
However, Levin is realistic about the challenges that lay ahead.
“Our challenges are pretty clear,” said Levin. “We have a lot of data and a good sense of what the specific challenges are.”
UMW developed recruitment plans that target these challenges.
“There is work to be done,” said Levin. “I am not happy it went over 80 percent and I want to fix it.”
However, Levin still feels confident of the current freshman class despite what the numbers say.
“We are bringing in students in the traditional range, just on the lower end,” said Levin. “We do want to bring it down but I am confident the students we brought in will succeed here.”