Double Value Draws More Top Students

April 12, 2012 | CUNY Matters

More high-achieving   students have applied to and have been accepted at The City University of New York for fall 2012 than ever before, with Macaulay Honors College leading the way. At Macaulay, the number of applicants rose by 36 percent to 5,529 from 4,077; they are an exemplary group, having a mean SAT score of 1269 and a mean academic average of 91.4 percent.

The upward trend in academically strong applicants has risen once again. As of the end of February, the University had already admitted more than 17,000 freshmen with academic averages of over 85, compared to about 15,000 at this point a year ago.

Much of this increase was driven by the unprecedented increase in applications to Macaulay Honors College, according to Senior University Dean Robert Ptachik. One factor that has made the honors college more attractive is that students can now apply to Macaulay at up to six participating senior colleges; previously, they could apply to Macaulay at only one college. He added that another factor in the pace of acceptance is faster action by the University Application Processing Center.

CUNY’s rising academic and economic value is also reflected by an increase in transfer applications from outside institutions. So far CUNY colleges have accepted 2,233 external transfer students, 24.1 percent more than last year’s 1,799 at this time.

Baruch College had admitted 582 transfer students by the end of February, far ahead of the 262 at the same time last year. “The competitiveness of the institution and its ranking have gone up precipitously,” said Ben Corpus, Baruch’s vice president of student affairs. Accolades have caught students’ attention, such as U.S. News and World Report placing Baruch at 21 this year among the top regional universities in the north (only two public universities ranked higher).

Even though the economy is slowly improving, he said, “I don’t think we’ve seen students gravitating back to the privates. If Baruch was among their top-choice colleges coming out of high school, they’re coming here because of our quality and affordability.”

The other facet of the transfer phenomenon is students transferring to senior colleges primarily from CUNY’s community colleges. To date, senior colleges have admitted 3,376 CUNY transfer students, or 113.3 percent more than last year’s 1,583.

Vincent J. Angrisani, Queens College’s executive director of enrollment management and admissions, noted that “Queens bumped up the minimum SAT score, so many students who wanted to come here were not eligible a year or two ago and went to a community college.

But now they have 30 credits or an associate degree, they’ve improved their math proficiency, they have the skills and they’re knocking on our door.” The college also sees a noticeable number of students who are seeking a second bachelor’s degree in fields like accounting, finance and speech pathology. “They’re seeking to re-engineer their lives,” Angrisani said.

Overall, CUNY has admitted more than 48,000 freshmen, an increase of more than 13 percent over February 2011. “While the increases are substantial at our baccalaureate colleges (more than 10 percent), the largest increases are once again at our community colleges, up more than 27 percent compared to this time last year,” Dean Ptachik said.