Despite the global recession, which has stoked fears of decreasing enrollment at colleges and universities nationwide, undergraduate applications for fall 2009 admission to Fordham rose five percent over last year.
This is the 18th consecutive year in which applications to the University’s three traditional undergraduate colleges have increased. More than 24,100 applications were submitted by early February, said John W. Buckley, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment.
“We are enthused,” Buckley said. “We’re operating from a position of strength in that the University has been building application momentum over two decades. Still, considering the current economy, and with discussion in the guidance community that more students may be looking at state schools, we’re very encouraged.”
The increase in regular-decision applications comes on the heels of a similar trend in early-action applications. Buckley said that 7,777 high school seniors met the Nov. 1 deadline for early action—an increase of 11 percent over a year ago.
The numbers show that Fordham continues to shed its reputation as a regional university that draws almost exclusively from the New York metropolitan area and, instead, is gaining national prominence, he said.
“We’re opening up some new markets,” Buckley said. “As you dig into the numbers, you’ll see that in several cases the notable increases are in distance markets that we’ve been cultivating.”
Fordham received nearly 1,300 applications from the Midwest. Applications from Illinois, for example, shot up 20 percent—from 386 last year to 465 this year.
Applications from the South are up 26 percent, driven largely by Florida, which surged 38 percent from 511 to 707. The Southwest, which Buckley said his office has been concentrating on more heavily, showed a 10 percent increase, with interest from Arizona students jumping 40 percent.
Applications from California continued to climb, from 1,227 last year to 1,431 this year—an increase of 17 percent. Numbers from New York, New Jersey and the surrounding areas were typically strong, Buckley said.
Interest from international students now attending U.S. high schools jumped 53 percent, from 298 to 457.
Greater quality has accompanied the overall increase in quantity, Buckley said. The average SAT score of applicants is 1187, up six points from the previous pool’s average of 1181. The numbers also point to more ethnic and racial diversity.
“It’s very exciting for us to see that applications from African Americans have climbed 24 percent, and Hispanic student applications climbed 29 percent, compared to last year,” he said.
Buckley credited several factors with increasing interest beyond the Northeast.
“We have been building outreach campaigns to students in the more distant markets,” he said. “What drives that effort is aggressive direct marketing to high school students informing them of Fordham’s advantages and gauging whether they’d like additional information about the University.”
Those who respond receive a flurry of print and electronic communications from Fordham, Buckley said.
“The focal point of our communications is to encourage students to visit the campuses,” he said. “Once we get students to spend some time with us, we stand a much greater chance of enrolling them.”
Campus tours are key, Buckley said, and both the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses offer much by way of first impressions.
“We have distinct competitive advantages through our academic programs, our Jesuit tradition and clearly our location. Over time, New York City has become more of a college town.
“Students look at Fordham in New York as an exciting place to spend four years. They’re intrigued by the cultural opportunities—museums, theaters. They are attracted by the academic possibilities and, quite frankly, especially in an economy like this, they are attracted by internship and networking opportunities that may lead to employment.”