URBANA — There are slightly fewer freshmen on campus this fall, but those who are here boast slightly higher ACT and SAT scores and higher class ranks than last year's freshman class.
This fall also marks an increase in the number of first-generation college students in the freshman class, according to the University of Illinois.
Newly released figures point to another record-enrollment year for the entire Urbana-Champaign campus. Including undergraduate, graduate and professional students; there are 42,883 students studying on the campus this fall, up from 42,606 last year, 38,263 10 years ago and 35,760 20 years ago.
The freshman class is 6,936 students strong, with more underrepresented minorities than last year. Of the class, 15 percent are African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Last year that number for freshmen stood at 13 percent.
The freshman class is a bit smaller in size this year — last year's class was unexpectedly higher with 7,255 freshmen enrolling — but this one ranks higher.
The average ACT score of incoming freshmen stands at 28.4, up from 28.2 last year. The average SAT score is 1337, up from 1315. Nearly 54 percent of freshmen — 53.8 percent — were in the top 10 percent of their class, up from 51.8 percent.
"We're working really hard to recruit the best and brightest students," said university spokeswoman Robin Kaler.
Of the freshman class, 19.6 percent are considered first-generation college students, up from 18.6 last year. Illinois residents total 5,269, or nearly 76 percent of the freshmen class; 12.8 percent are international and 11.2 percent are from the U.S. but from outside Illinois.
A goal, Kaler said, is "to build a class and help everyone in the class prepare to be a leader in the global and diverse world that awaits them when they graduate."
Reflecting a trend in recent years, the campus has become an increasingly global one, with just over 20 percent of the student body, including undergraduate and graduate and professional students, coming from outside the U.S. this fall. Five years ago, foreign students made up almost 13 percent of the student population.
Top countries sending students to the UI include China, South Korea, India and Taiwan.
The largest college on campus is the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with 11,150 students, including transfers, continuing and non-degree students. The college with the second highest number of students is Engineering with 6,763 students, followed by the College of Business with 2,904.