Numbers for Fall 2021 Reflect Multipronged Effort to Increase Recruitment, Retention of Diverse Student Body
University leaders pointed to participating in the Common App for the first time this past year as one way it’s working to increase access and equity for prospective students.
University President Darryll J. Pines and Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Barbara Gill sent the following email to the campus community today:
With renewed hope on the horizon after a year of uncertainty for many, we are pleased to announce that more students than ever see their potential future at the University of Maryland. The university is on the cusp of receiving a record-breaking achievement of 50,000 applications for admission this year, and we are proud that this number also includes record-high applications from Black and Latinx students. This is a significant step forward in our efforts to increase the diversity of our student body.
Furthermore, we are pleased to announce today an additional measure to increase access to our university. As prospective students continue to face challenges accessing national admissions test administrations during the pandemic, we will be extending our test-optional practice for spring and fall of 2022 and 2023. This will provide us with the opportunity to further assess how our test-optional approach impacts students and the admission process, which will inform how standardized tests will be used in the future.
A Community Effort
We could not have achieved this milestone without the collaboration of a determined community, one that is committed to breaking down barriers to access, while strengthening partnerships with school districts, counselors and community-based organizations. Recruiting and retaining a diverse student body is truly a campuswide effort, and we thank everyone for their role in this work.
We strongly believe that academic excellence and diversity are inextricably linked. It is a priority of ours to increase the number of students with diverse backgrounds who are admitted, enrolled and graduate from the University of Maryland. This is something university leadership has been working to address in partnership with Black student leaders for many months. We have made great progress in this area, and there is more work ahead.
Recruiting a Diverse Student Body
Our Office of Undergraduate Admissions has a successful history of working with counties across the state to recruit Black and Latinx students to UMD. A great example is the Maryland Ascent Program, which helps high school students who are first-generation from Baltimore City and Prince George's County navigate the college admission process by providing one-on-one counseling from start to finish. These efforts that include direct interactions with students and their families have a major impact on a student's choice to attend UMD.
Earlier this year, the university officially joined the Common Application. Our participation in the Common App helps increase access and equity for prospective students, and reduce barriers to the college application process. We are also prioritizing support in key areas like financial aid and scholarships. In addition, we made SAT and ACT scores optional for the Spring and Fall 2021 freshman and transfer application processes to enhance access and provide a clearer pathway for students who want to pursue a degree at Maryland during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of these efforts and other important collaborations, partnerships and recruitment work, we are seeing an increase in applications from Black and Latinx students from Baltimore, D.C. and Prince George's County when compared to previous years.
Student Success at UMD and Beyond
Recruiting and admitting Black and Latinx students to our university is one mark of success, but the measure of success also extends through graduation and careers.
Our Black students graduate at a much higher rate than many of our peer institutions. UMD is ranked among the top of our Big Ten peers in our six-year graduation rate for Black and African American students; our six-year graduation rate for Black and African American students is 81.3%, compared to a mean rate of 71.3% among our Big Ten peers. We are also ranked No. 1 among AAU universities for the number of bachelor's degrees conferred to African American students. For Latinx students, our graduation rate is 81.5% compared to 76.6% for our peers.
The university's Incentive Awards Program provides full academic scholarships and extended mentorship, leadership and community engagement opportunities for students from underserved communities in Prince George's County, Baltimore City and Montgomery County. In its 20th year, the program has a 84% six-year graduation rate.
We want all faculty, staff and students of the University of Maryland to know that we are committed to recruiting and enrolling diverse entering classes of students every year, in addition to diversifying and advancing underrepresented faculty and leadership. This work is constant and must be prioritized, from where we schedule our high school visits to how we recruit and hire our faculty and staff.
When we achieve excellence in diversity, we are stronger and poised for success in all that we do.
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland
Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management
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