Incoming Freshmen Faced Higher Standards



UB's current freshman class, culled from the school's largest applicant pool ever, ranks among the most accomplished in university history.

"Our mean score for the SAT has gone steadily up and acceptance rate has gone steadily down," said Sullivan.

UB admitted 68.9 percent of its applicants last fall, down from 81.6 percent in 1997. Of those, 94 percent were New York state residents. The lower acceptance rate is part of UB's ongoing process of distinguishing itself from other SUNY university centers.

Since fall 2000, UB has maintained an incoming freshman class size of about 3,000 students. The enrollment cap enabled UB to tighten the admissions standards this year's 3,075 freshmen had to meet, according to Sean Sullivan, vice provost for academic information and planning.

"The 3,000 student enrollment was a level agreed to between system administration and the university, about what made sense for us given the kind of institution we are. We froze at 3,000, feeling that is the right size class for us and our goal is to increase the quality of that class over time," said Sullivan.

The smaller class size permits UB to be more selective in terms of standardized test scores and high school GPAs.

"We have a selectivity measure where students are plotted based on their SAT score and high school average into one of five groups. The goal is for us to grow our group one and group two enrollments and reduce our group three, four and five enrollments," said Sullivan. Currently, the minimum high school average for group one is 85 and 80 for group two.

"In terms of change over the last three years, we are doing better than any of the other centers," said Sullivan. "We haven't seen any official reports from systems [administration] but the trend in the university centers is to do what we are doing."

The changes, however, are not drastic, and UB will still be an option for many high school students with less than Ivy League grades.

In addition to becoming more selective in admissions, the university hopes to improve freshmen retention rates. Administrators believe recent UB additions, including newly constructed apartment-style housing, new signs and improved activity centers, will contribute to increased retention of the school's freshmen. Freshmen retention rates have stabilized at around 84 percent during the last three years, a figure administrators would like to see at 90 percent in coming years.

According to Sullivan, the Office of the Provost has received campus-wide support for the new standards. Overall, UB is "trying to increase the preparedness of students who come in," he said.