Skip to main content

With more applicants than ever, U of M gets more choosy


Record numbers of applicants are allowing the University of Minnesota to be more selective about the students it admits to its Twin Cities campus.

The Gophers still play in the Big Ten but one U of M executive says "We're in a different league than we were before."

Bob McMaster, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, tells the Minnesota Daily: “Over the last 20 years, we’ve shifted from what I would call a safety school … to a destination for high-quality students.”

The Daily reports the university received more than 44,000 freshman applications last fall, which is more than two-and-a-half times the level of a decade earlier.

That's led to a drop in the proportion of applicants who are admitted – from 74 percent down to 44 percent.

University leaders sound more focused on the high-caliber academic talent arriving on campus than on the larger number of students getting rejected. McMaster tells the Daily competing for better students is something that should make the university proud.

President Eric Kaler says it will encourage high school students who hope to attend the U of M to aim higher. “This needs to be an aspirational place for good students in Minnesota,” he tells the campus paper.

The rise in applications is not unique to the U of M. MPR News reported last week that it's common among the state's colleges and has been building for years.

Macalester College, for example, was getting 1,100 applications per year in 1983. Last year it received 6,000. During that time the acceptance rate fell from 83 percent to 37 percent.

MPR says the college application process has become simpler since it moved online, fueling the trend toward high school students applying to more schools. A Lakeville teenager who will enroll at the U of M this fall told the network she applied to 11 colleges and knows people who applied to as many as 20.

Of course, there's still the pesky question of how to pay for higher education. The U of M's Kaler (right) was on Capitol Hill Thursday to talk about exactly that.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken invited Kaler to speak to a committee looking at how much support the states are providing to higher education.

As MinnPost reports, Kaler testified that between 1999 and 2011 Minnesota's spending on higher ed declined by 48 percent. He says some of that has been recovered since then, but with ups and downs along the way.

Find a transcript of Kaler's testimony here.

If college applications are in your future, here are some tips from The College Board.

Next Up

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man airlifted to a hospital after police shooting in Forest Lake

Police allege that the man presented a threat to officers.

Minnesota Wild

Wild's two third-period goals take down the Lightning

Ryan Hartman's go-ahead goal defeated the two-time defending champions.

Byron Buxton

Reports: Twins reach extension with Byron Buxton

The long-term deal locks in one of the Twins' franchise players.

Justin Jefferson

Vikings-49ers: 5 things you can count on

Sunday's matchup is a pivotal game in the NFC playoff picture.

Gopher Football

Watch: Gophers troll Badgers with 'Jump Around' after Saturday's win

First they took Paul Bunyan's Axe. Then they took their tradition.

Brandon Richart, missing person

Search underway for missing man in Anoka area

Brandon Richart was last seen Nov. 17.

U.S. Bank Stadium

5 teams win first state championships at Prep Bowl

A pair of records fell as the Prep Bowl lived up to the hype.

ashley Carlson

Remains of missing WI mom found in Pine County, MN

Ashley Miller-Carlson was 33 years old.