Admissions Office recalculates as college competition increases

Geneseo’s Admissions Office is restructuring its enrollment strategy, as the reality of a changing New York region and the competition from nearby institutions intensifies. This trend has taken a toll on the acceptance rate, which has risensince 2010.

The acceptance rate for first year, freshman and transfer students in 2010 was 39 percent; this rose to 71 percent in 2015. 

Kim Harvey assumed the role of director of admissions for Geneseo in October after serving in Residence Life and in the New Student Programing Office. She is confident that the acceptance rate represents just “one piece of many” to the whole of Geneseo.

The recruitment process for the class of 2021 marks the first time the admissions office will be using a “territory management” technique. 

“We took the state of New York and it was divided up based on counties. Each counselor got a set of counties, and that is the area in which they visit high schools,” Harvey said. “This allows the counselor to get to know the school they visit and the type of student that is produced from that school and academic curriculum, while personalizing the message.” 

Geneseo is also refocusing its efforts on the New York City Metropolitan region. As opposed to spending around three and a half weeks out of the recruitment cycle in this region, a new full-time position was created to exclusively interact with downstate schools. 

“We re-shifted resources there, allowing a full-time person to visit more high schools and, since they live down there, it is more accessible for applicants,” Harvey said.

In addition, Geneseo will be engaging more directly with New York City high schoolers by conducting interviews and information sessions at the SUNY Welcome Center in Manhattan—a first for this application cycle.

When acceptance letters are sent out—ranging from March 1-May 1—the Admissions Office will try to increase “touch points” with applicants, especially during this recruitment cycle, according to Harvey. This process will include reaching out to applicants with emails, sending personalized letters to parents and applicants about college departments and leaders and hosting “yield events,” which are a series of programs or workshops that enable applicants to become acclimated to Geneseo.

Harvey said that there has been a flux in the number of applications received from the New York City area. Furthermore, 210 students have committed themselves to attend Geneseo through the binding early decision process thus far. This is a 14 percent increase over the last incoming class of 184 early decision students.

“I think when we stack some of our academic programs against some of those schools [Hamilton, Colgate and Cornell] that you mentioned, I think we are competitive,” Harvey said. “Certainly a lot of it comes down to the price tag and scholarship money, but we are still attracting students that would be applicants there.”

Despite fluctuations in admissions rates over the past few years, Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio said that this reportedly does not have an effect on the perception of the school as a competitive public-honors college, as reflected in consultant studies with various focus groups.  

“It was clear from those things that Geneseo is known for academic rigor and a strong intellectual environment, and so I would like to think that that reputation is stronger than any temporary kind of fluctuations in acceptance rates,” Bonfiglio said. 

Other aspects of the college hold more importance than what is reflected in the changes in the acceptance rate, according to Bonfiglio. 

“The culture of an institution and a peer group at an institution has a much stronger impact on student achievement and student success than almost anything else,” Bonfiglio said. “I would expect all students to feel welcome and to find their niche.”

Assistant news editor Zainab Tahir contributed to this article.