First-Year Applications Decrease

Interim President Donald Christian recently  announced that while the reception of transfer applications and deposits have increased, first-year deposits were behind and applications have decreased in comparison to last year.

As of Monday, April 4, SUNY New Paltz has received 13,779 applications, a 4 percent decrease to last year’s approximate 17,000 applications. Although deposits were down at the beginning of the recruitment cycle, Vice President of Enrollment and Management L. David Eaton said a record number of deposits were received on Accepted Students Day.

“We’re doing pretty good all across the board,” he said. “The early part of the recruitment cycle applications were down and deposits were running behind… those are things you pay attention to. Since that time, it’s changed because looking at these types of numbers is like shooting at a moving target.”

Aside from tracking changes as a way to determine whether or not tools such as wait lists are necessary during the recruitment process,  Eaton said any change in the status of applications is worth analyzing, in order to avoid the decrease of head count enrollment.

Eaton said that reaching the enrollment target of 1,125 alongside 650 transfers is their goal in order to maintain a head-count enrollment of about 8,000 students.

“We want to do everything we can to air on the side of having a class that’s larger than our target one than one that’s smaller,” said Christian. “We want to assure that we hit our tuition revenue target.”

Although SUNY New Paltz continues to be the SUNY university that receives the most undergraduate applications, Eaton said economical changes and a more selective undergraduate admissions program are possible contributors to the decrease in first-year applications.

Christian agreed, adding that different groups of students are applying to New Paltz.

“We think that some students who five years ago might have applied to New Paltz are realizing that their high school records aren’t strong enough and it’s simply not worth the effort,” said Christian.

Devon Poniatowski, a senior at  Shenendehowa High School, said that before receiving her acceptance letter from SUNY New Paltz she had several friends who were denied admission.

“When I found out I was accepted, it made me feel relieved and proud that I was one of the lucky 37 percent to gain admission,” she said.  “I respect New Paltz because they are selective in the admissions process. It gives me reassurance that they are not just letting anyone in… They want hard-working, motivated students with creative interests.”

In addition, Eaton said that as the applicant pool is getting “smarter and smarter,” students become harder to yield due to many other university choices.

Poniatowski said many of her friends chose to overlook SUNY New Paltz during the application process.

“They were more interested in Geneseo and Binghamton. The recent attention both schools have been getting for their outstanding academic reputations have made them out-shine the other SUNYs,” she said.

Ultimately, Eaton also said that the decline in high school graduates in Long Island, New York City and Western New York,  – SUNY New Paltz’s main “market” – might also be a contributor of the application status decrease.

Eaton said every spring/early summer, the undergraduate admissions professionals develop strategies regarding communication, forms of advertising and outreach based on experiences from past years.

Despite the application decrease, Eaton said that 13,779 applications for 1,125 seats is “pretty rich.”

“Do you know what sells our campus?” said Eaton.  “Our community… it’s the people in it, it’s the students and the faculty and staff and the personalities that are very hard to describe. An open, free- spirited, friendly, everybody can be who they want to be kind of community…Our research shows students and faculty and alumni tells us that that’s really one of the most powerful aspects of this community.”

The undergraduate application deadline is on April 15 and the deposit deadline for accepted students is on May 1, unless the university’s revenue target is not achieved, in which case, the deadline will be extended.