Schenectady County

Colleges seeing applications soar

Local colleges are reporting record numbers of applications this year for the next freshman class in

Local colleges are reporting record numbers of applications this year for the next freshman class in a trend that’s being seen around the nation.

Officials at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute said Wednesday that applications for its freshman class had increased by 10 percent from 2007, a new record.

Other colleges reporting a record number of applications for the freshman class include the University at Albany, where applications have increased 4.8 percent above last year, Skidmore College, which has seen a 9 percent increase, and Union College, with a 9 percent jump.

College officials say many other factors are at play, including the convenience of applying online and the popularity of the common application form that makes it easy to apply to a wide range of universities almost simultaneously.

“There are more students in the applicant pool available this year,” said Bob Andrea, director of undergraduate admissions at the University at Albany, who said this number is expected to start to decrease in 2010.

Gone are the days of the handwritten or typed essay sent carefully in a manila envelope to a select couple of colleges. Many students worry they won’t get into their first or even second choice and so apply to many different colleges, just in case.

Students are increasingly confident that electronic applications are arriving safely. It’s easier for students and colleges to process this information, said Mary Lou Bates, dean of admissions and financial aid at Skidmore College.

Approximately 93 percent of applications to Skidmore were filed electronically, a 10 percent jump from last year.

Bates also said many schools have eliminated “early decision,” which has added to the number of applicants in the regular applicant pool. (Skidmore still has an early decision program, and these applications are also up from last year.)

Skidmore had 7,286 applications on file as of Friday, 580 more than the same date a year ago, according to Skidmore spokeswoman Andrea Wise.

“The application process has become more unpredictable, and as a result, students are applying to more schools,” said Bates.

Over the past few years, students have been applying to as many as a dozen schools. A typical applicant at the University at Albany applies to six schools, said Andrea.

The University at Albany has received 13,257 freshman applications this year, compared with 12,798 last year. Transfer applications at the University at Albany are up about 7 percent this year over last year.

At RPI, more than 11,000 high school students filed applications for the freshman class, which is more than double the number received in 2005.

“Over the past several years, we have seen an expansion of the national and international profile of the student body as well as a significant increase in applications from women, underrepresented minorities and those who are interested in new areas of Rensselaer’s expanding facilities,” said James. G. Nondorf, vice president for enrollment and dean of undergraduate and graduate admissions.

At Union College, more than 5,000 applications were received as of Friday, compared with 4,837 at the same time last year. When the deadline approaches, Union College expects it will have 5,100 applications, an increase of about 9 percent to 10 percent over last year, said Ann Fleming Brown, interim vice president for admissions and financial aid. It’s a record number, as was last year, she said.

Siena College in Loudonville reports escalating numbers of applications for the past five years, more and more of them online. Siena’s deadline for applications is March 1, and numbers to date were not available Friday.

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