SCSU sees 77 percent increase in freshman applications
Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter
For the past three years, Southern has seen a large increase in the numbers of freshmen applicants to the university. However, to understand why there has been an increase in the number of applicants and subsequently acceptances by Southern, one needs to understand the changes made to the application process last year. Last year Southern received, according to the Southern factbook 8,113 freshman applications for the fall of 2015. This, in comparison with the previous year’s number of freshman applicants, 4,568, shows an increase of 77.6 percent.
This massive increase, unseen within the past 10 years, is largely attributed for the fact that Southern switched to the Common Application platform for student applicants. According to the Director of Admission, Mrs. Haakonsen, the transition to the Common App was only one change which affected application to Southern.
“The increase is attributed largely to the exposure of being on the Common App platform,” said Haakonsen, “Because Connecticut Students are a large population of Common App Users, this provided us with a larger pool of applicants because so many students use the Common App to apply to college.”
While this was one example of why the number of applicants increased so drastically, Haakonsen also attributes this increase to a new strategy used by the University; Southern, in 2015, hired a third party company to help in reaching-out to seniors in high school.
“Another new effort that year  was that the University worked with Royall & Co., a higher education enrollment strategy company,” said Haakonsen. “They assisted us in reaching out to high school seniors to encourage their applications to Southern. This helped with our exposure both in Connecticut and in surrounding states.”
Now, as this large spike in applications was for the fall of 2015, that does not mean that it was only then. In fact, applications for the Fall of 2016 have increased another 9 percent according Haakonsen. That being said, with roughly 65 percent of students who applied being accepted, there was another 9 percent increase in freshman students who enrolled in Southern from the previous year.
However, there are instances where students who attend Southern will transfer or leave within their first semester. But, according to Terricita Sass, associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, this was not the case with this larger freshman class.
“Fall to spring freshmen returning increased this year from 90.7 percent [in 2014] to 93.0 percent this year” said Sass.
What that statistic means is that 93% of Southern freshman this academic year returned and registered for the spring semester, as opposed to last year when only 90.7 percent returned for the spring. However, whether or not this increase in class size and return rate at Southern will affect its retention rate is unknown as the retention census is only held from fall-fall.
While, as mentioned by Haakonsen, there was a strategic move by the University to reach out to more students, the University is also dedicated to demonstrating the merits of Southern to those students who apply.
“The university as a whole has really embraced the work that goes into rolling our freshman class, and so many areas of the campus have enthusiastically joined us in this work,” said Haakonsen, “We literally have hundreds of University administrators, staff, faculty and students involved in our Accepted Students Day this year to welcome students and families to our campus, and show them what a vibrant, engaging place this is to live and study.”
Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas