Freshman Class Reflects Significant Improvement in Quality and Diversity

Release Date: August 13, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo is set to enroll what may be the brightest freshman class in its history, and it has made significant strides to improve the diversity of incoming freshmen.

The mean SAT score for incoming freshmen this fall is projected to be 1182, an 18-point improvement from last fall, and the mean grade-point-average of incoming freshmen is 92 percent, compared to 89 percent last fall, according to Sean Sullivan, UB vice provost for enrollment and planning.

"I think we'll have the highest SAT mean ever at UB; at the very least, it's the highest we've had since we've been tracking this data," says Sullivan, who with Patricia Armstrong, UB director of admissions, has led a five-year effort to improve the quality and diversity of UB students.

According to Sullivan, UB will meet its targeted freshman enrollment of about 3,200 students, a planned decrease from last year's record 3,500 freshmen, but still a continued increase in annual freshman enrollment since 1999. Final freshman enrollment totals won't be known until mid-September, and UB's total fall-semester enrollment is projected to be about 27,255 undergraduate and graduate students.

Sullivan also expects a significant increase in enrollment of underrepresented minority students (Latino, African American and Native American students). More than 11 percent of the freshman class will be minority students, compared to 9.2 percent of last year's class.

"This is an increase of about 60 minority students in one year," Sullivan says. "We're very excited about the increase and have programs in place to help us keep growing in this area."

This year's freshmen also will be more geographically diverse than last year's class. Sullivan expects UB to double the number of non-athlete, out-of-state freshmen it enrolls this fall. UB freshmen this year will hail from 26 states.

Enrollment of international freshmen is expected to increase approximately 6.5 percent (from 140 enrolled in fall 2003 to 150 in fall 2004), according to Steven Shaw, UB director of international admissions. Many U.S. schools have seen declines in their international enrollments due to visa denials and visa delays; however, UB's Office of International Education has developed a proactive outreach program to attract more applicants and it has worked more closely with U.S. Embassies and Consulates to provide the required documentation, Shaw says.

"Given the difficulties many international students face in obtaining student visas, we're very pleased about the increase," Shaw adds. "These top-notch students, who could study nearly anywhere in the world, have chosen to study at UB and contribute to its academic and cultural enrichment and diversity."

The improvement in quality and diversity of freshmen indicates that UB is competing better with private universities and is outpacing competitor SUNY schools, according to Sullivan. For example, UB experienced a 13 percent growth in the number of freshmen applications this year, from 16,058 to 18,210 applications, and is enrolling more than half of its freshman class from its pool of the most academically talented applicants -- students who have a mean score of 1258 on the SAT exam.

Among freshmen applications UB saw a 10 percent increase in applicants who indicated that UB was their first choice, and a 5 percent increase in SUNY applications where students indicated that UB was their only choice for enrollment.

"In this marketplace it's very hard to grow with quality, but we're attracting a bigger share of the talented-student end of the market than ever before," Sullivan says. "If you look at the past five years, our undergraduate enrollment has been growing and the quality of our freshman enrollment has been growing at the same time."

Demographic and economic trends may have played a minor role in this year's student- recruitment successes -- there are more students graduating from high school nationwide, and a sluggish economy may mean that more parents are choosing to send their children to less-expensive public universities -- but Sullivan says a more aggressive and focused recruitment effort has played the larger role and has positioned UB to respond to trends.

Chief among these recruitment strategies was a new effort to create attractive financial incentives and need-based tuition aid packages -- ranging from $1,000 to full tuition -- for talented students. UB's Daniel Acker Scholars Program for talented minority students, for example, is enrolling 47 scholars this fall, more than doubling last year's recipients.

"We tried to be as strategic as possible in offering incentive scholarships that recognize both talent and need," Sullivan says. "We think we're doing exceedingly well in the market with what we know other top public and private universities are doing."

Other recruitment strategies are paying off, as well, Sullivan says. For example:

* UB is the only SUNY university center that offered early-decision acceptance to talented students who commit to enrolling at UB. Sullivan expects to enroll about 330 early-decision students, which is about 11 percent of incoming freshmen.

* An applicant waiting list was created to better manage the applicant pool. Sullivan expects to enroll 24 of 173 students from the list; an additional 43 students have been offered spring enrollment.

* A special admissions team focused on out-of-state student recruitment was created last year and is beginning to show results.

* UB expanded its alumni ambassadors recruitment program, which previously focused on Metropolitan New York, to Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and New Jersey.

"UB is a great choice for a lot of students," Sullivan says. "The word is getting out more and more through positive word of mouth, through our recruitment efforts and because of the efforts of many administrators and faculty throughout the campus."

Media Contact Information

John Della Contrada
Vice President for University Communications
521 Capen Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
Tel: 716-645-4094 (mobile: 716-361-3006)
Twitter: @UBNewsSource