URBANA — A record number of admissions offers went out to University of Illinois applicants this year, with thousands of students getting the news Friday.
More than 23,200 students were admitted to the UI for 2017-18, a new high and about 1,000 more than last year, according to Andrew Borst, director of undergraduate admissions.
A record number of students — more than 38,700 — had applied to the university for fall 2017.
Borst expects next fall's freshman class to be similar to this year's, in terms of size, academic quality, diversity and residency. This year's class set a record, with 7,593 students.
The average ACT score of admitted students is 29.90, compared with 29.91 last year, "statistically no difference," he said.
Of the 23,200 students, more than half had been admitted in December under the UI's "early action" option. After a two-year experiment with a single application deadline — with all students notified on the same day in February — the UI went back to the early notification option this year.
Students who applied by Nov. 1 received the news on Dec. 16. About 13,800 were admitted, about 4,000 were denied and another 4,000 were deferred.
Just under half of those deferred applicants — almost 1,900 — were admitted on Friday. About 900 remain on a waiting list, and 400 were denied admission.
In all, about 19,000 students were admitted to their first-choice program, and close to 4,000 received an alternative major, he said. A total of 2,000 students are on the waiting list, 400 fewer than last year. Typically, about one in 10 of wait-listed students is eventually accepted, Borst said.
About 10,000 students were denied admission this year.
Students have to decide on their admissions offers by May 1.
Borst said the switch back to a two-date notification system went fairly smoothly, with "no major hiccups."
"From a student anxiety standpoint I hope it helped," he said, with students getting the news earlier and fewer applicants deferred.
The UI also plans to send out its financial aid packages in mid-February, a month earlier than usual, Borst said. That's partly for competitive reasons — other schools are doing the same — and partly because students filed their family financial information earlier this year under a new deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Borst doesn't know if that will influence students' choices but it will give them a clearer picture of their financial options earlier, which should help families in the decision-making, he said.
About 850 students were admitted to the UI's new "preengineering program," designed to give qualified students from Illinois who were not admitted to the highly competitive College of Engineering a path to transfer in later.
In the past, these students might have been admitted to the Division of General Studies in hopes of transferring, but the new program will offer support, such as specialized advising and access to introductory engineering courses. And if the students maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, they're guaranteed admission into all but the college's most competitive programs — computer science, bioengineering and mechanical engineering.
Borst said the program allowed the UI to accept more students into engineering this year.
Computer science continues to grow more competitive, with more than 4,300 applications for approximately 215 seats.
"Many outstanding students with impressive academic credentials were denied admission," Borst said. Those who were admitted had both strong academics and in-depth experience in coding, research, math- and science-related competitions or internships, he said.
This story has been updated to correct the average ACT scores for admitted UI students.