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Bloomington Herald-Times

May 29, 2007

IU expects big, high-achieving freshman class; Plan to raise admission standards at Bloomington campus being implemented faster than scheduled

By Steve Hinnefeld
May 29, 2007

Indiana University is on track to enroll another big freshman class loaded with high achievers, according to the top IU Bloomington admissions official.

"It's been a great year. It just raises the bar for next year," said Roger Thompson, the IU vice provost for enrollment management.

Some 28,800 prospective first-year students applied to IU, up a remarkable 17 percent from last year, he said. And it appears there will again be a big rise in the academic standing of freshmen, after a 10-point increase in the average SAT score of new students in 2006.

IU had a goal of enrolling 6,750 first-year students, and it probably overshot that number, Thompson said. But he said the cohort won't be quite as big as last year, when a record freshman class of 7,259 forced some students to start the year living in residence hall lounges.

Enrollment deposits for students were due May 1, giving admissions officials a clearer idea how many students — and which ones — will enroll. "We'll have a good sense by the time orientation is done in the middle of July," Thompson said.

The sharp increase in applications spurred IU to raise admission requirements sooner and further than planned. Some students with strong grade-point averages were turned away because their SAT scores weren't good enough. Others with high test scores didn't make the grade on grades.

For the first time, IU implemented a waiting list for students whose qualifications were borderline. Thompson said several hundred students from the list were eventually offered admission.

"I think, for our first year out of the gate, we did pretty well," Thompson said. "I think we managed it effectively and we were very honest with students and parents."

Applicants who weren't admitted were often referred to IU regional campuses or Ivy Tech Community College as a route to an IU degree, he said.

Faculty and administrators have been pushing to make admissions more selective at the Bloomington campus. Last year, trustees approved requirements that first-year students from Indiana must complete a Core 40 diploma plus additional credits in math and world languages; they take effect in 2011.

Thompson said an increase in student-directed marketing and "buzz" about the campus's rising expectations may have boosted interest in Bloomington and led to more applications.

"I think all of that came together to create some really good synergy for us," he said.

The number of top-level Indiana students — with GPAs of at least 3.5 and SAT scores higher than 1,200 — who indicated they plan to attend IU rose 15 percent, he said.

Starting in 2008-09, Thompson said, a new IU Excellence award that pays full tuition for high-achieving Hoosier students could raise that number higher.

Traditionally, about 35 percent of first-year students at IU Bloomington have been from out of state. The percentage rose last year to 39 percent. Based on current indications this year, Thompson said, "it could be 38 or 39 percent. I wouldn't be surprised if it was 40 or 41 percent."

IU trustees have set a goal of doubling the number of underrepresented minority students at IU Bloomington by 2013-14. Thompson said the campus admitted more minority students this year, but the number of black students who say they plan to enroll currently appears to be flat.

But socioeconomic diversity could increase, he said, thanks to the new 21st Century Scholars Covenant program, in which IU will pay living costs for low-income students who have their tuition paid by the state. Thompson said the campus could enroll 250 of the 21st Century Scholars this year, up from about 160 last year.