UR received a record number of applications again this year and admitted a much lower percentage than in previous years in an effort to bring the size of the freshman class back to normal levels after this year’s unusually large class.
“We had a record number of applications,” Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jonathan Burdick said. “Already we’re bigger than last year’s number by about one percent. That’s not a huge surge in applications, but it’s a healthy clip.”
This year’s large freshman enrollment prompted admissions officials to cut back on the number of applicants they chose to accept. As a result, they admitted seven percent fewer applicants than last year. The percentage of applicants waitlisted decreased by 10 percent.
“Last year we enrolled too many freshmen and this year the goal is to reduce that number,” Burdick said. “We actually denied about 20 percent more altogether.”
Despite efforts to reduce the size of next year’s freshman class, early figures point to another large freshman class. A high percentage of accepted applicants are choosing to enroll, although not all have made their decision at this time. For the past few years, around 18 percent of admitted students chose to enroll, but this year’s accepting yield will likely be 20 percent, according to Burdick.
“UR overlaps and competes with the best universities in the country and the students that are applying here are usually applying to six, seven, eight, sometimes 10 or 12 other colleges,” Burdick said. “We’re obviously admitting the best and it’s nice to have an increasing percentage say that this is their first choice, this is where they’d rather be.”
Although diversity is a general goal of UR, according to Burdick, he does not see applications from minority groups increasing as much as from traditional groups, which has led to difficulty in increasing the diversity among next year’s freshmen compared to past years.
“We’re getting an increase in applicants, for instance, from places like Westchester County, Long Island and the west side of Boston and that’s a good thing in that a lot of people are talking about Rochester but it does water down the percentage of students that we have traditionally recruited and worked very hard with from inner-city Rochester, inner-city New York City,” Burdick said. “If you were looking for a steady march of progress toward looking more and more like the entire range of diversity that is true of the United States, I don’t know that we’re going to make that step every year.”
On top of the usual challenges with the admissions process, this year colleges throughout the nation had to deal with sweeping scoring errors on the College Board’s SAT, many of which were not realized until mid-March.
While UR received many applications with improperly scored SAT results, admissions decisions for those applicants were not changed after UR received the correct scores, despite some scoring errors as high as 300 points.
“We don’t let scores play that big of a role,” Burdick said. “We really know a lot more about these students than just the scores. We got more than 50 scores that had been of error from the October sitting. We went back and checked all the students to see if we had known that this was their score would we have made a different decision and I was very glad to see that not in a single case would we have changed the decision.”
UR also decided not to use the SAT’s new essay writing section.
“We decided a long time ago that we weren’t going to explicitly use the new writing test,” Burdick said. “We’re going to give it a couple of years to understand how it corresponded with success once students got to campus.”
Admitted students have been touring UR over the past few weeks for Spring Open Campus, which will continue through Friday.
“It’s been exceptional,” Burdick said. “We put the [UR] students at the forefront at a lot of events, which is something we’re told a lot of other universities don’t do. They just have deans and administrators and faculty do all the talking and students aren’t around as much while here the students are right at the center of what we do.”
Bruml can be reached at email@example.com.