Amanda Hancock, For The Miami Student

Junior Nick Daum works on a lab exercise in BIO116. Miami’s nearly 25,000 applicants reflect its growing academic caliber. (Kim Parent | The Miami Student)

As the college decision process is in full swing across the country, more and more high school students are putting Miami University at the top of their list. And as the number of Miami applicants increases each year, so does the caliber of its students. With the freshman class reporting higher test scores and GPAs than ever before, Miami is aligning many of its application requirements in accordance with its growing prestige.

A record-breaking number of students applied to Miami this past fall. The university received a total of 24,801 applications as of early February, compared to last year’s 22,520.

“As we continue to be more and more selective, no doubt that there’s an increase in our reputation,” Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Micheal Kabbaz said. “What this does is raise the bar for the level of engagement and what kind of student we attract to Miami.”

If the class of 2017 is any indication, those kinds of students are more academically accomplished and diverse than ever before. According to the Office of Admissions, current first-years have higher ACT scores and average high school GPAs than any other class in the history of Miami.

Interim Dean of the Farmer School of Business Raymond Gorman said these numbers display a growing demand for Miami.

“Because of the increase in quality, more students are targeting Miami as a good place to go to school,” he said. “It’s affected our rankings and as our rankings go up, we get more publicity. It’s a really good thing all around.”

Plus, over the past few years, the GPA requirement for the Business School has significantly increased from 2.0 to the most recent requirement of a 3.3 GPA.

“I think all faculty are certainly aware that we are drawing from a more talented pool of students. I don’t know if it’s a tangible thing, but we know we should expect more from students,” Gorman said.

Interim Director of the Honors Program, Cynthia Klestinec, said she agrees the record-breaking number of applications is a good sign for the university.

“It means that Miami is doing well nationally and that’s good for everybody,” she said.

She said public recognition is important, however, it’s not the only factor that belongs in the conversation.

“It also matters how students will perform when they get here,” Klestinec said. “Sometimes the debate about which schools are better tends to highlight things that as a professor, would never really occur to me.”

Klestinec said the emphasis should be on diversity of perspective among incoming students.

“We like finding students who bring something different to the honors program and who are interested in areas of study that are off the beaten path,” she said.

Although its hard to measure diversity of perspective, Kabbaz said it is continuing to rise more students come to Miami from around the country and around the world.

“As you develop a diversity of geography and where students are coming from and the backgrounds of students, it changes the dynamic in the classroom,” he said. He also diversity of perspective keeps Miami students competitive after they graduate. “They’re not just competing for jobs against students from Ohio, you’re competing against everyone.”

The overarching issue, Klestinec said, is what impact Miami’s changing reputation might have.

“This is the occasion to celebrate Miami because it’s a great turn of events but it’s also the chance to think a little more deeply about what Miami is, who is here and what we want Miami to do with those great students once they are here,” she said.