May 11, 1999
KALAMAZOO -- With a record number of student applications already processed for the fall of 1999, Western Michigan University will close admission to its freshman class for the first time in the University's history.
University officials have decided to stop accepting admissions applications following a fifth consecutive recruiting season characterized by skyrocketing numbers of students seeking admission to WMU as beginning freshmen. More than 15,000 students have applied for admission to this year's class. Freshman enrollment in the fall is expected to substantially exceed last year's record beginning freshman class of 3,758.
"Our University's popularity among students and their parents is on the rise, in part because of the recognition that we offer a superb undergraduate experience at a competitive price," says WMU President Elson S. Floyd. "This year, WMU's popularity has reached such heights, we're at the point where we need to close admissions to maintain the quality and service level our students expect and deserve."
The move to close freshman admissions primarily affects graduating high school seniors heading for college this fall and does not affect admission prospects for transfer students or graduate students, says John Fraire, dean of admissions. He notes certain exceptions to the closed status will be made for students applying as freshmen to such programs as the Lee Honors College. Those exceptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Admissions staff also will continue to process applications that already have been received or those that are currently in the postal system.
Freshman applications and admissions for this year are running more than 20 percent above last year's numbers at this time, Fraire says, and deposits made by admitted students have surpassed the 20 percent mark -- even after passing the May 1 deadline for refund requests. Further evidence of the approaching record class size is the fact that students have reserved spots at summer orientation sessions earlier than usual and the first six orientation sessions are totally booked. That series of 12 sessions will begin on June 7.
"We've known all year that we were going to have record numbers," Fraire notes. "And not only are our numbers up, the quality of student we're attracting is higher than ever. Our Medallion Scholarship competition is continuing to attract increasing numbers of top students from around the country, despite the fact the requirements to participate in that competition were raised two years ago."
Fraire says all of Michigan's public universities are benefiting this year from a good economy, students' increased tendency to begin their studies at a four-year institution and the fact that the number of 18-year-olds in the population is increasing. But WMU is reaping the rewards of those factors at a higher rate than any other school.
"It's shaping up to be a good year for a number of universities, but for WMU it's going to be a great year," Fraire says.
Fraire says WMU staff members are already working to insure that students who already have been admitted will be accommodated in residence halls and with appropriate expansion of sections in freshman-level courses.
"By closing admissions now, we can accommodate every student already admitted," Fraire says. "Students and their parents can feel confident that we'll be ready for them this fall."
Media contact: Matt Kurz, 616 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org
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