Tech sees record number of undergraduate applications
HOUGHTON — A record number of undergraduate students have applied to attend Michigan Technological University this fall.
Tech has received more than 8,800 applications for fall 2022, the university announced Monday.
That is up by 5% over last fall, and up 30% over the previous record, set in 2019.
The increase stands in contrast to the declines seen by most higher educational institutions in the state. Tech, along with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, were the only universities to grow enrollment over the past 10 years, Bridge Magazine reported last week.
“We’re seeing this generation in particular is interested in a hands-on experience, an experience that stretches them, and then a job market that rewards the vigor they have,” said John Lehman, Tech’s vice president for university relations and enrollment. “A lot of that’s about outcome, but the outcomes come as a result of what the students put into it and the university. And we’re telling that story, and the prospective student market is listening to that.”
The applicants are also more diverse than the 2019 group. Applications from women are up by nearly two-thirds, while those from underrepresented minority groups have doubled.
Lehman said the rise in applications from female students was due in part to an increased interest in STEM activities being driven in part by Tech and other institutions.
“There’s still a long way to go through before there’s parity, but we’re happy to see the increase that we’re seeing,” Lehman said.
2019 also saw the launch of Tech’s new College of Computing, which has helped attract students. Applications to programs such as cybersecurity and software engineering have risen by 40% over that span, the university said. Increases have also continued in key linchpins such as College of Engineering and College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. Applications are also rising for the pre-health professions, mathematics and other offerings in the College of Sciences and Arts and the College of Business.
In-state applications have doubled since 2015. In that time, Tech has also seen applications triple from Arizona, Texas and California.
Tech has stepped up its marketing in outbound areas, Lehman said. To determine where it should focus, Tech looked at three key criteria: metropolitan areas with a cross-section of high-tech industry; companies that have hired Tech students; and a strong Michigan Tech alumni base.
Along with merit- and need-based financial aid packages, the university also offers scholarship packages for students based in the Upper Peninsula. The university saw a 4% increase in students applying from Houghton County.
“Houghton County students are consistently some of the best students we have here on campus,” Lehman said.
Lehman said the university’s gains were not coming at the expense of academic standards. The high-school grade-point average for incoming freshmen in 2021 was 3.78, matching the level seen in 2019 and up from 3.5 in 2000.
“We’ve made no changes in the type of student that we’re admitting, or a change in the type of students academically that we’re trying to get at Michigan Tech,” Lehman said. “Same academic caliber that we’ve seen.”
Lehman said the university is looking at “steady, thoughtful, strategic, smart” growth that would enable the university to grow without compromising the educational experience. Last year saw the largest freshman class the university had seen in 39 years.
“We’re looking at a target that’s near there, but while the number’s important, the type of student’s more important,” he said. “We want to be sure that we’re enrolling students that can succeed here and will enjoy the benefits of the degree after they graduate.”