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DU Expecting a Talented Class of 2023

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Madeline Phipps

Take a look at the work that goes into getting them here

Feature  •
Office of Admission staff

In just a few weeks, DU’s graduating students will become alumni, and the University will look ahead to the approximately 1,400 new first-year students who will make up the Class of 2023.

Here are some of the characteristics of the incoming class:

  • The class has an average GPA of 3.72, ACT score of 28 and SAT score of 1260.
  • 71% of the students are from outside of Colorado, and they come from 48 different states.
  • 23% are students of color.
  • 15% are first-generation students.
  • 4% are from outside of the U.S., and they come from 22 different countries.
  • The class includes eight Boettcher Scholars, 16 Daniels Fund and seven Davis New Mexico Scholarship recipients.

As exciting as they are, these numbers tell only a part of the story. Behind the scenes, the staff in Undergraduate Admission has worked diligently over the past year to evaluate all of DU’s applicants to admit the right mix of students for the Class of 2023.  

During the past year, admission counselors have pored over applications from nearly 21,000 prospective students. After the Nov. 1 early application deadline and then the Jan. 15 regular deadline, the staff spends several weeks assessing the applicants to provide context and recommendation for admission.

While the main factors for the admission process focus on academic achievement, the requirements for acceptance depend on much more than transcripts and score numbers. “We talk about the ‘Three Cs’ in our admission process, and we review each applicant on three main thresholds: capable academically, competitive with our applicant pool and compelling reasons to admit,” explains Todd Rinehart, vice chancellor for enrollment management.

Although the individual counselors have initially sorted their applicants into three categories after reviewing their files, no decision letters are sent until after what is known as the “Great Debate” (pictured above). That happens in mid-December and in mid-February, when the staff gathers to refine the list of applicants who ultimately will be admitted. In addition to confirming the students who were categorized as admits, this is the time when the staff takes another look at students who were initially placed on the waitlist or who merit a second look.

“At the debate, each of our counselors are like an attorney, and they represent and advocate for their client, a prospective student,” Rinehart says. “The committee decides whether we agree with them and should admit the student, or not.”  

During the debate, counselors consider the compelling reasons to admit a student; this often means explaining the extenuating circumstances that may have led to a lower GPA or test score. For instance, a student’s transcript may show a drop in performance during a particular year, causing them to be initially placed in the "deny" pool. But this is the chance to highlight what the transcript can’t: that the student was, say, dealing with the death of a parent.

“Our review process places a great deal of weight on a student’s curriculum and their performance in those classes,” Rinehart says. “We also pay a lot of attention to trends in their curriculum and grades, wanting to see a student take a progressively more rigorous curriculum as well as demonstrate improved performance each year.”

In the years that Rinehart has worked in DU’s Office of Admission, he says he has seen the process undergo interesting changes. “In some respects, the basic process has remained the same, with academic performance and preparation still the main drivers in our decisions,” he says. “Technology has enhanced our holistic review, so that many other data points are available to help us better understand an applicant’s context within their identities and characteristics, their school, and their interactions with our staff.”