Thursday June 12, 2008

Banner Year

Nationwide, colleges are dipping into their wait lists to ensure full first-year classes; not so at the University of Dayton. This fall's entering class is expected to have at least 100 students more than projected.

When the University of Dayton's admission office resorted to using the campus chapel for overflowing information sessions with parents and prospective students, officials sensed it was going to be a banner year.

The Wall Street Journal this spring reported that more students this year are being accepted from wait lists because it's been harder to predict the size of the entering class.  Not at the University of Dayton, which has seen a record 11,578 applications and offered spots on its wait list to more than 800 students.

It is expected to be the best academically prepared class in school history, as measured by college entrance test scores. To date, the University of Dayton has logged first-year admission deposits from 2,046 students and expects to enroll a first-year class at least 100 students above projections.

For Ohio's largest private university, the news gets even better. Selectivity has increased, with the acceptance rate dipping eight percentage points to 74 percent. The incoming class also appears to have significantly greater diversity, both racially and geographically. Out-of-state enrollment is expected to climb. Deposits from Hispanic, Asian and Native American students are about level with fall 2007's first-year enrollment, but the number of African-American students is up by one-third to 84 deposits.  The Dayton Early College Academy, an early-college high school on campus that enrolls primarily African-American students, is sending 20 of its 48 graduates to the University of Dayton.

Applications from international students are up 81 percent to almost 500, reports Tricia Penno, communications coordinator in the Center for International Programs. UD has accepted 76 international students, exceeding the goal by 65 percent. UD has received deposits from students in Canada, China, the United Kingdom, Ghana, Indonesia, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia and Togo.

"The University of Dayton has drawing power in the market," said Sundar Kumarasamy, vice president for enrollment management. "Campus visits this year were up 30 percent, and we're already up 9 percent over last spring at this time.  We're struggling to find space on campus to host families."

Internationally, UD's Catholic, Marianist brand of education is resonating. For two straight years, the University of Dayton ranks first in international student satisfaction, according to an International Student Barometer survey, the largest study of international students in the world.  UD ranks as the fifth-best university for Chinese students studying abroad, according to Aoji Study Abroad, a student-recruiting agency.

"Our goal is that we bring in the most talented students who fit the University of Dayton mission — students who will most benefit from what UD has to offer," he said.  "We are telling students who we are. We want to make very clear, in introducing ourselves to the market, that our core is our mission. We're making clear what a Marianist education is and how it is different."

While the University of Dayton has attracted record applications in five out of the last six years, it has never seen this type of surge in applications. UD's previous record of 9,052 applications came in May 2006. UD typically enrolls 1,750 to 1,800 students in its first-year class.