By Lesley Larson
While colleges across the nation have seen a recent increase in undergraduate applications, BYU saw a drop in the number of applicants during the time period studied by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
Last year 73 percent of colleges and universities nationwide received an increased number of applications, according the association”s annual State of College Admissions Report released last month.
According to the report, college enrollment is at an all-time high, with more than 15 million students enrolled in postsecondary education in 2005. And enrollments are expected to increase until at least 2014.
Contrary to the expectation, during the 2005 application period BYU actually received less freshmen applications for the undergraduate program than the previous year by a difference of 541 applicants, according to statistics compiled by Janet Rex, University Communications information manager.
However the number of undergraduate applicants rebounded during the most recent application period in 2006, which was more consistent with BYU”s overall growth trend, said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.
In 2006 the number of undergraduate applicants increased by 1,262 applicants from when the national study was conducted, for a total number of undergraduate applicants at 9,958 in 2006.
“We saw a significant increase in the applicants for Fall 2006, which is more reflective of the overall trend,” Jenkins said.
However, there is no information available to University Admissions that would explain the minor shifts in the number of undergraduate applications the university receives from year to year, Director of Admissions Services, Kirk Strong said.
The NACAC began compiling annual reports four years ago, and the information was originally intended to aid students and parents in the college application process, said David Hawkins, NACAC director of public policy.
He called the report “an interesting snapshot of what”s happening” in regards to college application trends, and said an interesting trend to follow in the coming years will be the way standardized tests are weighted in the application process.
The general growth of undergraduate applicants will also be an interesting trend to follow, which trend comes from an array of influences, Hawkins said.
The report attributes the nationwide increase in undergraduate applicants to a combination of factors, including a population bulge among college-age students. In 2005 more than three million students graduated from high school in the U.S., with more than 60 percent of them enrolling in either a two- or four-year postsecondary institution, the report stated.
The ease of submitting applications due to online procedures and the overall tendency for students to send applications to more colleges than ever before were also factors in the increase, according to the report.
With more applicants, postsecondary institutions are becoming more competitive, stated the report. However, the average university still accepts approximately seven of 10 applicants.
However BYU accepts slightly more applicants each year, with an acceptance rate of 78 percent of the 8,696 applicants in 2005, Rex said.
Universities nationwide rank grades in college preparatory courses and standardized admission tests as the most important factors in the acceptance decision. While BYU applicants have a competitive average GPA of 3.75, BYU also considers an ecclesiastical endorsement as a part of the process, according to the BYU Web site. This may be compared to the letters of recommendation that are required by other universities.
The report also tracked the demographics of each of 582 universities that participated, calculating gender, ethnicity and other statistics.
While gender ratios of the daytime student BYU population was 52 percent men and 48 percent women in the 2005- 2006 school year, ratios for the postsecondary applicants nationwide were reversed at 42 percent for men compared to 58 percent for women.
However, the demographical differences at universities are most pronounced in the population of blacks and Hispanics. While together these groups constitute 32 percent of the national college-age population, blacks and Hispanics account for only 18 percent of the undergraduate student population nationwide, according to the report.
At BYU these groups are even less represented, with Hispanics accounting for only 4 percent of the BYU population and a combination of Black, Native American, Alaskan, and other minorities accounting for only 2 percent.
However BYU”s international student population accounted for 6 percent of daytime students in the 2005-2006 school year. Of those students, 26 percent were from the Far East, 14 percent from South America, 14 percent from Canada, 13 percent from Europe, 12 percent from Central America and Mexico, 7 percent from the Middle East and 7 percent from Eastern Europe and Russia, according to the BYU Web site.