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Record Number of University Applications

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Applications to the University at Albany for this fall have just surpassed last year’s record-breaking 23,700, but it is unclear whether enrollment will follow suit with former President Robert Jones’ goal of 20,000 students by 2020.

So far there are 23,800 applications and admissions anticipates another 500-800 applications this year, according to Timothy Lee, the admissions director.

This is the most applications the university has ever received.

But there is a difference between a record number of applications and enrollment. In fall 2008, there were more students at UAlbany than there are for the current school year.

In 2008 there were 18,126 students enrolled in 2008, according the university’s 2010 Middle States Self-Report.

Currently there are 17,178 enrolled students, according to UAlbany Fast Facts.

Lee emphasized retention to increase total enrollment.

“It’s not just enrolling students, it’s enrolling students and keeping them happy so they want to stay here and graduate,” he said.

Retention for the fall 2015 freshman class was 84 percent, but Lee said the goal is to get to around 90 percent.

In 2015, then-President Jones stated, “we will absolutely reach 20,000 students by 2020,” during his fall state of the university address.

However, not all administrators share this same certainty.

Interim Provost, Darrell Wheeler, noted that it was possible, but not certain.

“We could. I think we should step back and ask ourselves if that’s the right number for 2020,” Wheeler said referring to reaching the enrollment goal.

In Jones’s same speech, he emphasized “high-growth” areas like engineering and cybersecurity in his fall state of the university address as one way to reach enrollment goals.

From this year’s applicant pool, 700 students applied for computer engineering and 180 applied for homeland security.

However, this is the first year that those majors were available on applications, so there is no previous record.

“It’s a baseline for both of these,” Lee said.

The director also noted that adding new programs like engineering and homeland security is helpful for application growth, but that it is just one of many factors.

On the new programs, Lee said that there isn’t necessarily a correlation between adding new programs and increasing enrollment because students might change their minds by enrollment time.

In terms of outreach efforts, admissions focuses on increased travel, according to Lee. There are 12 people dedicated to recruiting students; three of these people are full-time regional representatives in Long Island, Philadelphia, and California.

In 2008, there were three to four full-time professional staff and some part-time staff for recruitment, according to the 2010 Middle States report.

Lee thinks the enrollment goal is attainable, but that it will involve a collaborative effort from everyone on campus.

“Enrollment is not the responsibility of the admissions office,” he said.

A number of different factors could influence students, according to Lee who cited an applicant’s experience with faculty, comments from current students during a tour, and the university’s appearance as factors.

Increasing the number of transfer students is another way to increase enrollment.

UAlbany recently made an agreement with Hudson Valley Community College for students to transfer into the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences or the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity.

Improving programs with transfer students also entails “strengthening and revisiting” the existing programs, according to the admissions director.

Alongside the goal of increasing enrollment, Lee said that UAlbany’s ability to handle the expansion is a “basic concern,” but believes that current planning will make it manageable.

This entails academic planning to keep the student to faculty ratio low. The ratio for this year is 18:1, according to UAlbany Fast Facts.

Dealing with the goal of expansion involves many factors “that it’s just like a ripple effect,” Lee said.

 

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Elise Coombs, a Syracuse native, is the editor-in-chief of the Albany Student Press. She is the co-Vice President of the UAlbany Mock Trial team, a member of Presidential Honors Society, and a peer mentor for the pre-law section of Writing and Critical Inquiry. After her time at UAlbany, she plans to go to law school and become a First Amendment lawyer.

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