• TheDMonline.com Staff Member?
  • Log In
Share |

ACT score of UM freshmen is higher than ever

The average ACT score of 23.9 for the current University of Mississippi freshman class is a record high in the university’s history. According to faculty and students, this record-setting score is expected to boost academic morale for the class of 2016, as well as improve the university’s standing among other SEC schools. Director of Institutional Research Mary Harrington has reported that the average ACT and converted SAT scores for this fall’s incoming freshmen are the highest in university history. According to Harrington, the average ACT score of 23.9 jumped from last fall’s 23.5, which was an increase from the average from the fall of 2010. She said she believes this trend will continue. “The university is constantly striving to improve the quality of our students, and this is demonstrated through the gradually increasing scores,” Harrington said. Whitman Smith, director of enrollment services for Ole Miss, credits the rise to the change of admissions standards for out-of-state students. The ACT requirement for the current group of out-of-state freshmen was a 20, which allowed admissions officers to control the growth of the class. The higher bar for standardized test scores served to weed out academically weaker students from the first round of admissions. “The growth of the freshman class has been out of control for the last five or so years,” Smith said. “The higher standard allowed us to be more selective academically.” Ryan Upshaw, the coordinator of recruitment and admissions for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, is responsible for some of the more aggressive recruitment of potential students who have high ACT scores. “(The news of the record average score) sets us up as an institution that students see as strong academically and shows students that Ole Miss is the type of institution that they can select as a desirable resource for their undergraduate education,” Upshaw said. Dean of Students Sparky Reardon said credit is also due to the faculty and the students who are already here at the university for drawing in this record-setting class. The higher average is welcome news for members of the class of 2016. Freshman forensic chemistry major Shelby Hilton thinks the higher average score will correlate with a better overall work ethic among freshmen, and David Turner, a freshman geological engineering major, said he thinks the news is good publicity for the school. “That feels good (to be a part of that group),” freshman nursing major Veronica Ransey said. “It makes me want to strive for better things.” However, Ole Miss is still behind other SEC schools. The freshman class of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville has an average score of 27, according to an article on www.utk.edu that was posted by Amy Blakely, the assistant director of media and internal relations. The University of Arkansas’ freshman class had an average score of 26, according to Suzanne McCray, the vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions for Arkansas. The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) has yet to release the ACT scores for Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. Associate provost Noel Wilkin said he believes the scores will continue to increase, though. “It is impressive that we have been able to improve the average ACT score for the incoming class this dramatically over the past five years, despite the fact that all eight public Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) have maintained the same admissions standards,” Wilkin said. He and other Ole Miss faculty maintain faith in the continuation of the trend. The standards can be viewed at www.ihl.stat.ms.us/admissions.