As part of its highest academically performing incoming-freshman class, the University of Nevada, Reno welcomed nine new National Merit Scholars this semester. They join the 16 already enrolled, bringing the University’s total to 25.
“In addition to our new National Merit Scholars, this year’s freshman class came to us having performed better than any others in terms of high-school GPA, ACT and SAT scores,” said University Vice President Student Services Shannon Ellis.
The average grade point average (GPA) for the incoming class increased 0.6 percent from 3.335 to 3.355. Average ACT scores rose to 22.8 from 22.7, and SAT scores to 1062 from the previous year’s 1054. According to data collected by the ACT Program, the national average for 2009 high-school graduates was 21.1.
“It’s clear we’re continuing to attract bright and prepared students, and this raises the level of the campus experience for everyone: faculty, staff and students,” University President Milt Glick said. “Having these students enrolled and on their way to earning a degree from the University of Nevada ultimately contributes to a better prepared and educated population, which is vital for the future of Nevada.”
Overall, the University’s enrollment for fall 2009 (16,862 students) is flat to last year’s enrollment (16,867 students), however, full time equivalency increased 1.4 percent, with more students taking a minimum of 15-credit hours per semester. Enrollment data also shows that retention rates are continuing to improve: the number of sophomores has increased 1 percent, juniors increased by 1 percent and seniors by 5 percent.
Overall diversity is also continuing to increase. Enrollment of students of color is up 3 percent, including a 5 percent increase in Hispanic students. This semester, 3,204 students identify themselves as a “person of color.”
“The University community should be a reflection of the state and region we serve,” Glick said. “Diversity also contributes to the overall education experience and prepares students for increasingly diverse workplaces.”
The University achieved sponsorship status by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation last spring. Sponsoring schools are required to award at least three National Merit Scholarships each year. The University’s 25 National Merit Scholars is the largest number ever enrolled at Nevada. When compared to the most recent data (2006) of the number of these scholars enrolled at universities across the country, the University would rank in the top 100.
One of this year’s new scholars, Teila Irwin, is a graduate of Damonte Ranch High School in Reno and is now an electrical engineering major, involved with the University’s Women in Science and Engineering program, Honors Program and the Nevada Wolf Pack’s rifle team. She chose Nevada over options in Massachusetts and Oregon because of its National Merit program.
“I’m really glad that the University offers such a large scholarship for National Merit Scholars,” Irwin said. “Without it, I might not even be able to go to college.”
Currently, nearly 300 corporations, company foundations and businesses and about 200 colleges and universities provide National Merit scholarships.