Report to Faculty Senate says class of incoming freshmen best yet

RISING STANDARDS: The mean high school GPA for entering freshmen has risen this year to 4.2 after remaining at 4.1 for the last four years. GPA is another rising trend in the last decade. ACADEMIC STANDARDS COMMITTEE REPORT

Every fall, when new students come to the University of Miami to begin their college careers, they are constantly told that their class is the best one to have come to the university. According to the Annual Report on Admissions and Undergraduate Student Quality presented to the Faculty Senate, this has been true for the last 13 years.

“The UM student body is getting better, and this improvement is occurring at an impressive rate,” said the report, which was presented by Fred Frohock of the Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Standards during the March 25 Faculty Senate meeting.

According to the report, the 2008 freshman class had the highest mean and median SAT scores of any other class, with a median of 1282 and a mean of 1290, up seven points from last year. Moreover, the difference between the mean SAT scores of entering UM freshmen and the mean U.S. World & News Report scores has all but disappeared since 2002.

ACT scores, which since 2004 have been used if a student’s SAT score was lower, dropped a slight one-tenth of a point but have been increasing overall during the past decade, going from about 25 in 1998 to a little below 29 for the 2008 freshmen.

“A lot of strategizing and work goes into recruiting students,” said Paul Orehovec, the vice president for Enrollment Management and Continuing & International Education.

High school GPA and class rank rose as well. The mean high school GPA for the freshman class rose to 4.2 after remaining stagnant for four years at 4.1. Class rank increased, with 46 percent of students ranked in the top five percent of their graduating classes, a two percent increase from last year and a 17 percent increase compared to the last decade. While the top five percent rank is up, the continuing ranks have been in a slow decline since 1998 and have resulted in a sharp increase of the quality of the freshmen classes.

“I’m happy to say that the high quality of the freshman class is matched by high GPAs,” said Provost Thomas LeBLanc in an e-mail to The Miami Hurricane. “The average fall GPA of the freshman class last fall was 3.3, the highest on record (tied for the past three years) and well above the average GPA of the freshman class of 10 years ago (3.0).”

When a student applies to the University of Miami, the Office of Admissions assigns them to one of six categories. The Computed Selectivity Index, or CSI, is an internal measure used by the admissions office which takes into account standardized test scores and academic performance in high school. The categories, numbered one though six, represent the difference between the best and worst applicants. In the past decade, CSIs one through three have been rising steadily, while CSIs four through six have experienced a decline.


“The CSI is a way to categorize the strength of the applicant” said Stephen Sapp, chair of the Faculty Senate. “The Admissions Office takes many factors into account when considering applicants.”

The number of applications has also increased. According to the report, the amount of applications received during the past decade has almost doubled while the number of applications rejected have increased by more than five times. In 2008, close to 22,500 applications were received and nearly 10,000 were rejected. By contrast, around 11,500 applications were received in 1998 and less than 2,500 were rejected.

The report also outlines the diversity of the student body and its increase throughout the years. Fifty to 60 percent of the 2008 freshman class comes from places other than Florida, with 44 to 53 percent of them coming from other states and between three and eight percent from other countries. The number of students coming from Miami-Dade County has been falling in the past decade and accounted for 19 percent of the freshmen in 2008. The percentage of students coming from Broward County has remained steady at seven to nine percent while the rest of Florida accounts for 13 percent.

Full report:

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