Admissions aims to attract New York City, international applicants

Admissions to Geneseo show a slight increase in student diversity, following efforts to boost outreach to applicants from New York City and abroad. These efforts partly reflect an attempt to mitigate the college’s rising admissions rate. 

The percentage of enrolled students from underrepresented backgrounds experienced a rise from 20.1 percent in the fall of 2016 to 22.3 percent in the fall of 2017, reflecting an escalation in plans by the school to target the student population in downstate New York, primarily in New York City, according to Director of Admissions Kimberly Harvey. 

“Two percent in the grand scheme of things may not seem like a lot, but I think … given the size, that is a nice increase or a nice bump in students because that’s equivalent to probably 50 more students,” Harvey said. “Other campuses, privates and publics, are investing resources in New York City.” 

SUNY schools have increasingly targeted recruitment efforts in New York City, according to Harvey. 

“That’s where a lot of students are coming from who are going to college right now in New York State and so that’s where the applicants are,” she said. “New York City is definitely a highly concentrated area and so it’s important to have presence.” 

The college hired a full-time admissions counselor Victor Wang in 2016 to work in New York City. Prior to hiring Wang, the school employed the use of part-time regional recruiters, who would go to New York City for eight to 10 weeks and talk to potential applicants, according to Harvey. 

“It was a better use of our funds here to put someone and have them work there full time,” Harvey said. “That’s a key component right now in admissions … the relationship and connection that we can build with students, their families and their counselors that can really help us tell the Geneseo story.” 

The responsibilities of a full-time admissions counselor include visiting high schools around the five boroughs, hosting information events with parents, counselors and students, as well as focusing on reviewing applications specifically from New York City, Wang said

“I think Geneseo needed to step up their game in … just being able to tap into that market as efficiently as they should,” Wang said in a phone interview. “Hopefully, through purposeful events and purposeful programming, we can get New York City students, especially in my area where it’s a more diverse demographic, to come to Geneseo.” 

In addition to developing the student minority population, the school is also working on initiatives targeting international applicants, according to Director of the International Student & Scholar Services Staff Jennifer Kenyon. Kenyon cited concerns, expressed by international admissions officials at different colleges, that the current political climate may decrease applications from abroad. 

“We’re focusing on student services so that we can show students that you are in fact very welcome here … that our campus really supports you regardless of what you may feel is going on in the United States as a whole.” Kenyon said. “Geneseo wants you here … we’re trying to portray ourselves as being a welcoming, friendly environment … so that hopefully we overcome some of those negative perceptions students might have.” 

The school is hoping for an upturn in applications to combat the rise in admissions rate, according to Harvey. Geneseo has seen an annual raise in its admissions rate, from 42 percent in 2012 to 72 percent for the fall 2017 semester, according to the Office for Institutional Research. 

Having international students and cultural diversity on-campus has a positive impact on the college community, according to Kenyon.  

“It’s really beneficial to the student population here on-campus that maybe doesn’t have a chance to go abroad, doesn’t have a chance to meet a lot of people from other countries,” Kenyon said. “You get to learn about other people’s cultures, you get to learn about how other people see the world and I think it adds a lot to your university experience as a whole.”