Freshman Class

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Aug. 23, 1996

Incoming Class One of Best Prepared

As classes begin at UW-River Falls on Sept. 3, the institution will welcome one of its brightest incoming classes, whose members are among the best prepared in the institution's 122-year history for the challenges of pursuing a college education.

Further, the class is likely to be the second largest in modern institutional history, ranging between 1,170 and 1,200.

"What is remarkable about this," says Admissions Director Alan Tuchtenhagen, "is that the class represents both quality and quantity. We did not sacrifice quality to enroll these students."

He noted that the surge in applications, a near record 2,600 and an incoming class that is nearly 20 percent larger than last year's, comes at a time when many higher education institutions are struggling to make their admissions goals.

How competitive is UW-River Falls for admissions?

Money Magazine, in its just-released September edition review of 1,115 American colleges and universities, reported that in the 26-campus University of Wisconsin System, the two schools that have the most demanding admissions standards are River Falls and Madison. They are the only two campuses in the UW System that set a preference for students who graduate in the upper 40 percent of their high school classes. All others set the threshold for the upper 50 percent, or less.

Some of the statistical data for the incoming class is impressive:

  • Some 46 percent of the new students graduated in the top 25 percent of their high school class; 88.5 percent graduated in the top half of their class.
  • 19 incoming freshmen are Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholars, entitled to a full scholarship for graduating first or second in their high school class. That brings to 67 the number of Scholars who will attend UW-RF as classes begin-a school record.
  • An average ACT score of 22.4-a school record-and nearly 1.5 points above national average.
  • These are all indicators for success in a college career by discriminating students and their parents, according to Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau.

    "This is their university of first choice, which is very important to understand when you look at our student profile. The students who are coming to us are listing River Falls as the institution that they plan to attend.

    "There are a number of factors that pull on that decision and have led them to River Falls," Thibodeau continued. "Certainly, this includes academic program array, the strength of our faculty, our location, affordability, the reputation of our faculty-student mentoring, and multiple opportunities for growth and leadership experiences.

    "All of these things are coming together pretty well. So when our admissions staff provides information to prospective students about River Falls, they and their parents see it as a place that has a lot of the specifics they are seeking.

    "The quality that this incoming class represents is the result of the work of many people over a number of years to focus our strengths and tell people what they are. As a result, we are getting more and more highly qualified students picking River Falls as their first-choice University. That speaks volumes about this place and its vitality and strength."

    The near record numbers for the incoming class also were influenced by a policy decision of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents to remove enrollment limits this year after eight years of caps. "Once those caps came off, we were affected by the pent-up demand from students who had wanted to get in for a long time," Tuchtenhagen said.

    Some of the academic disciplines that are seeing the greatest demand are elementary education in the nationally ranked College of Education & Professional Studies; the sciences, particularly in the Center of Excellence for undergraduate physics and chemistry, as well as in biotechnology, food sciences and biology; the School of Business & Economics; and in the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences.

    Even with that pressure, Tuchtenhagen said, the University will continue to admit qualified students until the start of classes on Sept. 3.

    "We are still open for enrollment. But we are up-front with students that if we don't think they are academically qualified then we won't admit them." For more information, contact the Admissions Department at 715/425-3500.

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