The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Acceptance letters to the Hilltop harder to earn

In recent years, some have begun calling SMU “the Harvard of the South.” Extreme as this labeling may be for the rising academic profile of the university, there is no doubt SMU is raising the bar when it comes to admissions.

“The complaint from prospective students is no longer, ‘SMU, I can’t afford it,’ but rather, ‘SMU, I can’t get in,'” said admissions counselor Joe Davis. “A student who was here ten years ago on scholarship may not make it in today.”

According to Davis, the academic profile of the university has significantly changed in the last five to 10 years. He attributes this change to a “dramatically increased applicant pool.” SMU Admissions now receives twice as many applications as it did five years ago.

While many more students are applying to SMU, the same number or fewer are actually making it into the university. This past year, approximately half of applicants were accepted to SMU. Two years ago, approximately 65 percent of applicants made it into the University.

Each year, acceptance into SMU becomes increasingly difficult, meriting the University a “selective school” labeling in college guides such as the Princeton Review. Where a school like Harvard is labeled, “highly selective,” SMU is now considered “selective.”

Ideally, SMU’s goal is to admit somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of applicants.

“We used to be categorized with schools like TCU and Baylor,” Davis explains. “Now, we are transitioning by being grouped with schools like Wake Forest University and Vanderbilt University,” Davis said.

As the school transitions to becoming a more academically elite institution, Davis and Tommy Newton, a recruitment director for Meadows, believe the University’s increasingly stringent admissions come as a bit of a surprise to applicants and to other schools as well.

“We need to educate the community about that change, about the new SMU,” Davis said.

Newton agrees. “I think we have started sneaking up on people,” he said.

“In fact, we are beginning to see the younger, more academically reputable siblings of SMU students not getting into the school,” he adds.

While many schools lure National Merit scholars with hefty financial aid and scholarship, Davis says, “the goal of the university is to attract students to the school because of SMU’s offerings, not because we were the school that gave them the largest scholarship.”

“We want to become students’ dream school,” Davis.

In so doing, according to Davis, students who come to the university are more inclined to continue investing themselves as much academically when they arrive at SMU as they did in high school.

SMU admissions thinks producing a good product strengthens the academic reputation of the university. Newton constantly cajoles current Meadows students into recruiting their ‘talented’ friends from back home claiming, “the more talent we bring into our program the more your degree is worth.”

The university draws “talented students” by focusing on improving the overall experience for current students and by enhancing the offerings for prospective students.

“Word of mouth from current students is key to luring prospective students,” Davis said.

Also, resources like the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports and newly renovated residence halls make SMU a hot-ticket item for prospective students when they compare SMU to the other schools on their college lists.

“We do well when we get students on campus,” Davis said.

Additionally, an increasing number of students are drawn to SMU because of unique degree programs like Corporate Communications and Public Affairs in the Meadows school.

“A program like CCPA has been tailored to meet the current demands in the professional market,” Davis said. “Some schools tend to stray away from an academic tradition by offering majors that are too specialized. SMU appeals to many more students by offering unique programs like CCPA that still remain very academic.”

In the last 10 years, SMU has evolved from a regional school to a national school by moving its focus outside of Texas. Today, 55 percent of the student body is from out of state.

As SMU approaches its centennial with a more highly profiled academic reputation than ever before, the university continues to make strides toward fulfilling the purpose intended by its founders.

In 1911, SMU was created because the founders of Dallas decided their newly formed city needed a prestigious university.

“Each year we work toward this goal,” Davis said.

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