March 17, 1998
KALAMAZOO -- If current trends continue, Western Michigan University could have its largest freshman class ever, according to University officials.
"We have admitted nearly 8,600 students as of this week," said John Fraire, WMU's dean of admissions. "If this trend continues, and we have every reason to believe that it will, the class that enters this fall could be significantly larger than the class of 1989, our largest freshman class to date."
Making these numbers particularly impressive are the significant increases in the number of students who have already paid deposits for the fall semester, noted Dr. Richard A. Wright, associate vice president for academic affairs at the University.
"Our deposits have increased more than 27 percent for transfer students and are up more than 18 percent for beginning freshmen vs. the comparable period a year ago," Wright said. "In today's world of multiple applications, these numbers are the important ones because they indicate the level of commitment on the part of the student."
Included in these admissions increases are some significant gains over previous years for all groups of entering students, Wright noted.
"Specifically, we are seeing a big increase for entering freshmen," he said. "They are up 10 percent vs. last year as are our minority admissions. Also noteworthy is the 20 percent growth in transfer students and an increase at the graduate level of 31 percent. Since both of these groups have experience at other institutions, we feel these increases are particularly important from a competitive point of view."
Not only is this likely to be one of WMU's largest entering classes, but it also will be one of its strongest, according to Wright.
"While we have yet to produce the official report on high school grade point averages and ACT scores, the early numbers are quite impressive," he said. "In addition, we are seeing record numbers of students qualifying for our Medallion Scholarship Program, which has very rigorous academic qualifications. We also are experiencing increases in students seeking admittance to our Lee Honors College."
The reasons for these increases in both numbers and quality are many, Fraire noted. "With college costs so much in the news, our listing for the second straight year among 'America's 100 Best College Buys,' is definitely a plus," he said. "In addition, a number of our programs have been in the national spotlight recently. A couple of examples include our School of Aviation Sciences, which is the only collegiate training site in this country for British Airways, and the recent national rankings of our speech pathology and occupational therapy programs by U.S. News & World Report.
"Also," he continued, "there's our recent election to Phi Beta Kappa national honor society. We're quite proud to be among only 91 public universities in the nation that have been granted this status. We feel that this, along with our Medallion Scholarship Program and Lee Honors College, really sets us apart from the typical state university."
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