UI tweaks admissions system

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In order to control the size of the incoming freshman class, UI has changed the admissions deadline date from May to March.

By Naomi Hofferber

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After the record-breaking incoming freshman class of 2020, University of Iowa officials have looked for ways to reduce or better maintain class size.

In an effort to have more control, the UI admission application deadline date will be changed from May 1 to March 1 for the incoming class of 2021.

“What we’re moving to on March 1 is what we call a waitlist admission process,” said Brent Gage, the UI associate vice president for enrollment management. “What we’ll do [is] we’ll pool applicants on March 1, and we’ll review and release decisions.”

The fall 2016 class of incoming freshmen totaled 5,643 students, Gage said.

UI President Bruce Harreld expressed concern about maintaining class size at the Sept. 8, 2016, state Board of Regents meeting; he said the UI may look to decrease the incoming class size over time to take stress off the university’s systems.

“In order to provide our students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to strive for excellence, we must have a relentless focus on the things we choose to do,” Harreld said at the meeting. “The managing of our upcoming class sizes will provide the opportunity for a deliberate and specific movement toward our goals in improving student success and improving our metrics specifically in the [Association of American Universities].”

Gage said by transitioning from rolling admission to a waitlist admission, the university will be able to exert more control over the situation.

“The goal was to maybe reduce that size a bit. Right now, we look at the number of students who have been accepted and paid their acceptance deposit, we’re up by 15 percent from last year,” Gage said. “We hope that this change with the March 1 waitlist process, it will give us a little bit more control to try to get that number to a size that we can really effectively serve.”

Current projections predict that the incoming class of 2021 could be larger by 100 to 200 students. Gage said that it’s possible the UI will admit all students who apply after March 1, which typically constitutes 10 percent of the application pool.

“It makes it very difficult when you have a significant increase in applications like we’re experiencing now to manage that number,” Gage said. “We’re really hoping that the waitlist in March will help us at least at that point in time say ‘where are we, what do our projections have us at with enrollment, and what do we need to do.’ ”

An increase in the number of students can put a strain on university resources, and having an increased need for housing can have positive and negative consequences.

“The larger freshman class is a double-edged sword,” said Von Stange, an assistant vice president for Student Life and the director of University Housing and Dining. “It keeps the residence halls full, which is good because that means it keeps rates low for the students, but it also means that when we have space, we either have to put students in housing that is full, or put students in temporary housing, or we need to limit the number of students who can return.”

The new East Side dorm, Catlett Hall, which is set to open this fall, will house 1,049 students.

“Our priority is to house the first-year students,” Stange said. “Regardless of what the university’s decision is, to grow or to remain the same, or to reduce, we will do what we normally do, which is meet our students’ needs.”

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