Regents embrace more selective admissions policy
MINNEAPOLIS -- University of Minnesota regents gave a warm reception to major changes in enrollment policy designed to lure exceptional students to the increasingly selective university.
The plan presented Thursday includes pulling back the enrollment at General College, which admits a more diverse though less academically sound student body, while expanding biological science, management and other more selective programs.
While university leaders have worked quietly the past few years to raise the university's academic profile, Thursday was the first time they put it in writing before the regents.
These ideas "generally capture what looks to me to be the right sweep here," said Regent Maureen Reed, and her fellow committee members offered no opposition, though the changes may restrict who goes to the university.
University leaders said they can no longer try to be all things to all people, especially in a time of dwindling public dollars.
In higher education, being more selective creates higher academic rankings, higher rank attracts fund-raising and research money, money attracts better faculty, which brings better students who, completing the cycle, raise national rankings.
Vice Provost Craig Swan told regents the university wasn't giving up on access to mediocre students, but said the university will "not (serve) all high school students in the state."
The university typically admits about 10 percent of Minnesota's graduating high school seniors and plans to sustain that. But while the university used to admit about 70 percent of all applicants, this year it admitted 65 percent and that's likely to drop in the future.
Though admittance rates vary across the Big Ten, including 80 percent at Indiana and Iowa universities, it sits at about 35 percent at top-tier rival Michigan.
The emphasis on attracting high-achieving students got mixed reviews from university students Thursday night.
"I think the General College is really an important part of this university," said graduate student Christina Berndt, 27, of New Brighton. "It's something special about the U of M that lots of other universities don't have. I feel it's a shame to hamper the work that it does."
But freshman Dane Neumann, 18, of Minneapolis, said he'd welcome the change.
"Anytime you're raising the standards, it's a benefit to us all and it increases the reputation of the university," he said. "It seems our school is looked down on in the Big Ten for academics. So, I think we need to raise the reputation of the school."