By Chancellor Blank
High school seniors across Wisconsin are currently trying to decide where they want to apply to college. What percentage of Wisconsin residents who apply to UW-Madison would you guess are accepted to our campus?
Less than half? We often get people who believe far fewer than half of our Wisconsin applicants are accepted at UW-Madison.
In reality, we’ve been accepting about two-thirds of Wisconsin applicants for many years. We have much lower acceptance rates for out-of-state applicants. In fact, because we’ve set a new record for out-of-state undergraduate applications every year for the last nine years, our out-of-state acceptance rate has dropped steadily. We received 42,627 applications for the approximately 6,800 spots in the 2018 fall class; but we still maintained our strong commitment to Wisconsin by making sure about two out of every three Wisconsin residents who applied were offered a spot in that class.
Of course, the Wisconsin high school seniors who enroll at UW-Madison are pretty good students. Among those who we enrolled last fall, their average ACT score was 28 and they have wide range of achievements and leadership skills.
It’s a common misconception that not many Wisconsin applicants get into UW-Madison and that’s why we launched a campaign to tackle this and other myths associated with our campus. Our Mythbusters campaign is targeting 27 counties in the state, running short infomercials on social and traditional media to correct some of these misconceptions. The privately-funded effort launched in October addresses issues like admissions and affordability, length of time to graduation, and how many students end up working in Wisconsin after graduation. All of these are topics where many Wisconsin residents are surprised when they learn the facts.
Why does getting the facts straight on these issues matter?
We are in a moment where Wisconsin businesses say they need more highly-skilled employees than ever. The more high-quality students we attract to our campus and keep in Wisconsin for college, the more likely it is that Wisconsin businesses can recruit them into jobs. Once a student leaves the state for school, they are less likely to return.
We want to make sure every student who is qualified to attend UW-Madison knows they should apply. That will help attract and retain top students in our state and give them access to a world-class education at one of the lowest resident tuition rates in the Big Ten.
We also want Wisconsin high school students to know that UW-Madison is affordable. That’s why we created programs like Bucky’s Tuition Promise that covers tuition and fees for Wisconsin students from families with an adjusted gross income of $56,000 or less. It’s also why we have increased our financial aid to undergrads by 157 percent in the last 10 years. These efforts are part of the reason a majority of our students graduate with no student debt.
It is important that Wisconsin citizens know we have a close partnership with this state. We bring more than $1 billion into Wisconsin in federal and private research funding each year, and another $300 million in out-of-state tuition. This is money that is largely spent in the state, creating jobs and buying materials. And it’s not just Dane County that gets these dollars. We bring research dollars into communities across the state. We buy equipment and supplies or out-source work to local Wisconsin companies in almost all 72 counties.
Very few other businesses bring this amount of revenue into the state and spend it here. That makes the the state economy stronger because of UW-Madison. Based on our research enterprise alone, we are one of Wisconsin’s largest employers and a major source of jobs.
You may have already seen some of the Mythbuster videos while watching Badger sporting events this winter or on social media. If not, you can see all of them here: https://onwisconsin.wisc.edu. They’re very short. And who knows? If you listen to them, you might learn something you didn’t know.