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  September 7, 2004

Record Number of Top Students Enroll At UConn

More than 27,000 students were welcomed to Storrs, the regional campuses, the Law School, and the Health Center last week, representing the largest number of students ever at the University, and including a record number of top students in the freshman class.

Since 1996, University officials have announced the freshman numbers with pride each year: higher average SAT scores; more valedictorians and salutatorians; more students who ranked near the top of their high school class; more diversity; more applicants. And the annual increase in applications promises further increases in student quality, as the competition for a limited number of spots increases: officials have capped new student enrollment at the Storrs campus at 3,200 for the past four years, even as the number of applications continues to climb.

UConn's increasing selectivity shows in the numbers. For this fall, 18,465 students applied to Storrs, and 50 percent were offered admission. In 1995, when 9,874 students applied, 70 percent were offered admission.

At the School of Law, fewer than 20 percent of the applicants were accepted into the new class, which has 204 students. The group's median score on the LSAT, 162 out of a possible 180, was the highest in the school's history. Forty-five percent of the law school's new class are women, and 27 percent are people of color. Twenty-four percent already hold an advanced degree.

At the Health Center, too, new students in the dental and medical schools are among the best. The 41 new dental students, based on their GPA and Dental Admission Testing scores, are among the top 15 percent of dental school applicants nationally. Among the 78 new students in the medical school, the overall grade average is 3.66.

"Less than a decade ago, our aspiration was to become a school of choice for excellent students from Connecticut and beyond," says President Philip E. Austin. "We have more than attained that goal. The undergraduate, graduate, and professional students applying to UConn in such great numbers know that we offer an excellent education; more than likely, they will remain in Connecticut when they complete their degree. The strength in our enrollment translates into a major contribution to the state's quality of life and economic and cultural vitality."

The average SAT score of this year's freshman class is 1176, up 9 points over last year. Admissions officials this year also succeeded in reaching a goal of enrolling 100 students who ranked either first or second in their high school class, which means 570 valedictorians or salutatorians have enrolled at the University since 1995. Equally impressive, nearly 900 (almost a third) of UConn's new students finished high school ranked in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, compared to 740 last fall and only 411 in 1995.

This year, scholarships were awarded to students finishing in the top 10 percent of their high school class with a minimum 1350 SAT score. And valedictorians and salutatorians received stipends that can be used for research or studies. Ongoing improvements to the Honors Program, and concerted recruitment efforts beginning early in students' high school careers, have also helped attract top students to the University.

For the second year in a row, out-of-state applicants exceeded the number of in-state applicants (9,947 to 8,518), even though only 30 percent of the freshman class is drawn from out of state. The growing competition for out-of-state admissions is another factor contributing to the increase in the quality of students.

Combined with another increase in the number of freshmen from underrepresented groups (minorities are 16 percent of the total), and a new cohort of students from out of state, the new class brings a richness of diversity and quality to campus that can only improve UConn's already excellent retention and graduation rates, says M. Dolan Evanovich, vice provost for enrollment management.

With the population increasing, Evanovich says UConn is enhancing existing programs, including the Honors Program, the First Year Experience, and the fledgling Senior Year Experience, and developing new programs that will increase retention and help more students graduate in four years. Graduating in four years benefits both the students - fewer years of paying tuition - and the University: the sooner current students graduate, the more new students the University can enroll.

Overall this year, about 5,000 freshman and transfer students join the UConn community. The total includes about 3,200 freshmen and 600 transfer students at Storrs, and another 1,000 freshmen and 200 transfers at the regional campuses. The regional campus numbers represent an increase of about 10 percent compared to last fall.