Top Of The Line: 15 percent increase in applications

Laurie Rotondo, director of Undergraduate Admissions, works her way through this year’s freshmanBy Olivia Tattory

Although the number of freshman applications in recent years has steadily increased, nearly 44 percent since fall 2004, the entering class of 2007 is projected to be 10 students fewer compared to the entering class of 2006. This increase can be attributed to various factors, some as a result of Rider’s efforts and others not.

According to Vice President of Enrollment Management Jamie O’Hara, the University is very excited about the increase in applications and interest in Rider.

“This is a terrific thing,” said O’Hara. “And what makes it even a more terrific thing is that we’re seeing a lot more geographic diversity.”

According to director of Admissions Laurie Rotondo, the most substantial increase in applications occurred between fall 2006 and fall 2007. In 2006, there were 4,700 applications compared to the University’s current count of applications, which is 5,400, a 15 percent increase.

“The important factor to mention is that we are still receiving applications,” said Rotondo.

Rider’s recent renovations and the addition of two new buildings, the Student Recreation Center and the New Residence Hall, have received positive feedback from prospective students and their families. Rotondo also noted the University’s expanded recruitment efforts both nationally and internationally.

Rotondo also acknowledged that some of the growth reflects trends beyond Rider.

In recent years, studies have shown that on average, high school seniors are applying to more colleges than in the past. According to the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) more than 25 percent of all first year, full-time college students submitted more than five applications to colleges.

“There are not only more college-age students, but they are also applying to more institutions,” said Rotondo.

The admission staff has placed recruiters along the East Coast from as north as Massachusetts to as far south as Florida. This effort has resulted in national geographic diversity as the fall 2007 incoming class represents 33 states, compared to last year’s class of 27 states.

Rider is also drawing more international attention, as students from approximately 12 different countries have applied for admission. Admissions counselors have traveled to Asia for the past two years in an effort to put a face on the University and generate interest among international students.

“Actually having someone out there expressing interest in those students makes all the difference,” said Rotondo. “It’s just the beginning.”

Carrot Zhao, a global business major, agrees with Rotondo and said that meeting with an admissions counselor made the difference when looking at institutions in the United States.

“I think it really helped to meet with the person because they were able to directly answer questions that I had,” said Zhao. “It was a lot better than just looking at brochures.”

The increase in interest can also be attributed to technology. The Internet provides students with a much easier and more efficient way of applying to institutions, as Rider receives approximately 70 percent of its applications online.

Because Rider is not looking to increase the size of the freshman class, the selection and admission process will, as a result, be made more competitive. Admission factors include the applicants’ grade point average, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation and standardized test score results (SATI or ACT.)

In most cases, each application is reviewed by at least two admissions counselors. Then, as Rotondo stated, if there is disagreement among the counselors, the application is presented before the Committee of Admission, comprised of the Director of Undergraduate Admission and at least three other admission staff members.

According to O’Hara, high school guidance counselors are also taking note of the increasing selectivity of Rider’s admissions process.

“So we’re starting to see this where we’re getting calls from guidance counselors having them ask ‘this was your profile student last year, why didn’t [you] accept them this year?’” O’Hara said.

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