Correction (September 26, 11:56 p.m.): Due to a reporting error, the story, “Budget cuts limit ability to recruit top students” inaccurately stated that this year’s freshman class had a lower median SAT score. The middle 50 percent score dropped slightly, with the lowest middle percentile score falling from 1210 to 1200. The average overall score increased by one point to 1304. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
UNC administrators often brag that their newest students are the best and the brightest. But this year, it might be the second-best and the second-brightest.
This year’s freshmen brought to campus slightly lower median SAT scores, fewer from the top 10 percent of their high school class, and fewer valedictorians than their sophomore counterparts did. And of the students offered admission, a smaller percentage chose to enroll at UNC than the previous year’s class, representing a decrease in the University’s highly-prized “yield” rating.
The slight dip reflects not only a competitive nationwide college admissions process that creates high demand for top students, but also demonstrates the negative impact of budget cuts on UNC’s admissions office’s ability to recruit.
In a presentation of the data to UNC’s Board of Trustees on Thursday, Stephen Farmer, director of undergraduate admissions, stressed that he does not believe the data represents a trend, noting the natural “ebb and flow” of the numbers.
“It’s not quite the best class in our history, but it’s the second-best,” he said. “As always, we must remember that these students didn’t have to choose UNC.”
But Farmer noted that without financial and institutional support from the University, the office could experience some of the difficulties faced last winter and spring in the coming year.
“I don’t want to make excuses,” he said. “But we have had several challenges.”
In April 2009, Gov. Bev Perdue ordered a freeze on almost all travel using state funds, inhibiting the office’s ability to send admissions staff to recruit. Farmer said they recruited half as much in North Carolina and did virtually no recruiting outside the state during the 2009-10 academic year.