Volume 96, Issue 59
Wednesday, January 15, 2003

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You choo-choo-choosed me?
Western the first choice of more students

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

It seems more and more people are placing Western at the top of their application when applying to universities.

The number of first-choice applications for Western has increased 56 per cent between 1993 and 2002, while the remaining universities in Ontario have seen only an average increase of 16 per cent.

According to Greg Marcotte, national director of the Ontario Universities Application Centre, it is still premature to count this year's numbers, as OUAC is still processing applications.

"We're still receiving thousands of applications," he said, adding complete statistics will be available later this month.

However, OUAC statistics for the last two years show that the increase in first-choice applications for Western is greater than that of any other major Ontario university.

According OUAC statistics, between 2001 and 2002, Western saw an increase of 18 per cent in first-choice applications. In 2001, 2,357 people chose Western first on their university applications and that number increased to 2,800 in 2002.

During that same time, the University of Toronto only saw an increase of 8 per cent, while Queen's University saw an increase of 6.6 per cent.

York University in Toronto saw a decline of 25.1 per cent in first-choice applications over the same two years, and the University of Waterloo also saw a decline of 11.2 per cent. While 2,401 students placed Waterloo first on their application in 2001, only 2,132 did so the following year.

"This is a very good news story," said Western President Paul Davenport. The numbers show that the retention rate of students, as well as the number of graduates, are both rising, he explained.

"[It is] showing up in the classrooms," Davenport said, adding students are choosing Western first because they perceive the high quality of an undergraduate education here.

"It doesn't surprise me that the numbers are up," said Chris Sinal, president of the University Students' Council. He said Western offers a strong academic environment, along with social growth and development, making it attractive to prospective students.

"We are running a leadership program [for London high school students]," Sinal said, adding the initiative will help prospective students learn about the USC.

There are a lot of opportunities for students at Western besides academics, he said, citing clubs and volunteer opportunities.

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