University is more selective following athletic success
A few years ago, the University of Maryland at College Park (UMCP) could be found on many college lists as the "if-all-else-fails" school. But with UMCP's recent athletic success and with a large increase in student applicants this year, more students are now finding it difficult to gain admission.
Two years ago, 50 percent of those admitted had a weighted GPA ranging from 3.5 to 4.0 and SAT scores between 1200 and 1340. The average GPA this year ranged between 3.7 and 4.2 and the low end of the median SAT scores rose 50 points.
UMCP's associate director of admissions, Jim Christensen, says the university's development actually began about 25 years ago but is only now receiving publicity. Christensen credits the popularity of UMCP to many factors, including recent athletic success. With Maryland teams performing well in football and basketball, applicants have taken an increased interest in UMCP, according to Christensen.
Accordingly, the university is raising its expectations of applicants. "The rigor with which a student has put together [his or her] academic program is now under more scrutiny," says Christensen.
This year, with only about 9,000 spots available for incoming freshman and 23,000 total applications—compared with 20,000 applications two years ago—acceptance to UMCP has become no easy task.
Senior Chris Smith was shocked by his letter from UMCP, which said he was placed on the waiting list. "I thought it was a safe school to get into," he says. Smith, a Magnet student with a weighted GPA of 3.5 and 1490 on his SAT, also applied to Duke University, Villanova and Cornell College in Iowa. Smith will attend Cornell College in the fall.
Like Smith, senior Brandon Hayes felt he met the criteria to get into UMCP; he had good grades and believed he was well-rounded. However, Hayes's confidence was based on last year's standards, which were somewhat lower than this year's. As a result, Hayes and a dozen other Blazers were not admitted into UMCP.
The state's financial support of UMCP has contributed to the school's improvement, as the state legislature has been giving the university money to improve its research capabilities.
According to Christensen, UMCP's growth can also be credited to population advancement.
Guidance counselor Bill Lindsey estimates that 75 percent of the students he advises mention UMCP as a school they are considering without knowing much about the university's high standards.
He advises students to research the standards and compare those standards with what they have to offer to the school. Lindsey says that many students who are not qualified apply in ultimately vain hopes of getting in anyway.
Christensen agrees, saying that the school no longer offers easy admittance to every applicant. Christensen believes that if UMCP continues its trend of development, next year will be even harder for students to gain admission. "We're now a safety school to those who apply to the Ivies," says Christensen.
Colby Chapman. Colby Chapman is a junior page editor and sports writer for Silver Chips. She plays basketball and runs track for Blair, and she plays the piano as well. She is very committed to her academics but takes great pride in her athletics. More »