Nathan Bridge, News Editor
This fall, Utica College welcomed a freshman class that exceeded its application record for the third year in a row. This marks a new milestone for UC because, for the first time in the college’s history, it had to stop accepting new applicants in 2016.
The first of these three consecutive years coincided with UC’s announcement of the tuition reset in 2015. According to Executive Director of Admissions Jessica Nelson, via the Utica College web page, 5,643 applications were filed for the class of 2021, exceeding more than 200 applications compared to the previous year and with applicants from all 50 states.
Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management Jeffrey Gates believes that while part of the excess of applications can be attributed to the momentum of the tuition reset, the other large factor is that the Utica College brand and experience continues to expand, not only in New York State, but across the country.
“I think students and families are looking for value,” Gates said. “The process of applying to college is cumbersome enough and some people who don’t have enough knowledge about the value might have written us off before. Now, fewer people are doing that and more families are looking at Utica College as a viable option.”
According to the New York Times, Utica College graduates are in the top third of earners nationally.
Gates said that statistic, combined with the lowered cost of education, puts Utica College students at a strategic advantage compared to other colleges who may have a higher tuition cost and lower salary outcomes for students after they graduate.
“I think it’s important for us to keep our costs modest to allow our students to be able to complete their education but also to enter the workforce sooner,” Gates said. “I always say we want students to enter the workforce with a car payment and not a mortgage payment. Getting a personal, private education that’s gonna put you in the top third of earners nationally, that’s worth the investment.”
Despite the influx of freshman students, the tuition reset has actually made other departments within the college a smoother experience for everyone involved.
Senior Associate Director of Student Financial Counseling Karolina Hall believes that not only the lowered cost but the transparency has made Utica College a more attractive option to prospective students. The transparency makes the application process that much easier for those students and enables them to get more information as they make their higher education decisions.
“We have experienced more personalized, one-on-one attention with families who are asking more direct questions,” Hall said. “Because of the transparency, it has allowed them to think beyond the first number. In the past, we’ve seen families get shocked by the sticker price, and never come to us with the next questions. Now, more people are coming to us with more questions about four-year planning and further education, and more details about how the new system benefits and impacts them. It has given us opportunities to educate more families about the entire financial process.”
With limited space available, the cap number on applications will likely stay in place. Gates believes that it will allow Utica College admissions to become more selective in the future, as applications will likely hover in the 5,600 range.