Univ. beats BU, NYU
By Zac Estrada, News Staff
Northeastern received nearly 43,000 applications from prospective freshmen for the fall term, more than any private university in the country and breaking its own record for applications received.
The figure represents a 15 percent surge over 2010’s numbers, and puts Northeastern, already on a decade-long upswing for applications, ahead of other top institutions such as Boston University, New York University and University of Southern California – each with at least 38,000 applicants this year.
“Northeastern is recognized as an institution that integrates academic work with experience,” Vice President of Enrollment Jane Brown said. “We’ve cornered the market for that I think.”
Brown, as well as other Northeastern administrators, cited the co-op program as the main attraction for prospective students who see networking and hands-on experience as critical to securing a job after graduation in a still-uncertain economy.
“There’s no doubt in the recession in the last three years, all students are fearful of a jobless economy,” Senior Vice President of Enrollment Philomena Mantella said Monday at the Student Government Association’s (SGA) meeting. “They’re coming into this, but we can promise if you optimize the experience here you’re going to have a much better opportunity to network and mature.”
Northeastern has been gunning with popular private institutions like BU and NYU for the highest number of applicants in recent years and officials said it’s the consistent innovation and nurturing of cornerstone programs like co-op that stoke interest among undergraduates.
“It’s been a constant trend upward, but the last three years have been marked,” Mantella said. “Although we’ve come really far, this is just a period to optimize. We have to move really fast.”
Brown said there were sharp increases in the number of applicants from outside of the New England area. The number of applicants from the Midwest rose 35 percent compared with last year, and 24 percent in the Western U.S. From California alone, 2,887 people applied compared with 2,311 last year – up by a quarter.
The largest area of increase came from international students, Brown said. Northeastern reported a 42 percent jump in international applicants, to more than 4,400. International students now make up 10 percent of the total pool.
“The American system of education is much more flexible than secondary educations in other countries,” Brown said. “Students are much happier with the pathways to education at Northeastern than other universities.” She said students from other countries are familiar with co-op and say it’s a program they can’t get at home.
Among international students, the biggest increases came from Chinese applicants, which doubled from last year. Asian applicants, including students from South Korea, Japan and India, were up 50 percent.
The number of students applying from the United Kingdom increased by 70 percent, and the number of Mexican students jumped 125 percent over 2010.
Mantella said the momentum Northeastern has built up in recent years has kept the university high on admissions wish lists for high school seniors.
Brown also said Northeastern is becoming a top pick among prospective college students.
“Students are increasingly indicating Northeastern is a first-choice school,” she said. “We hear from academic counselors who are very disappointed that we can’t offer admission to some of their students.”
SGA Vice President of Academic Affairs Michael Sabo said the four-year program has added to Northeastern’s desirability.
“It affects our rankings with four-year graduates,” he said. “That’s something prospective students look at.”
Sabo said more students want the flexibility to graduate in four or five years.
“There are people who want to get an education in the most efficient manner,” he said.
Statistics from Northeastern’s admissions office reveal a 50 percent increase in the number of applicants who scored at least 1500 on the math and English parts of the SAT, and the office expects to enroll a record number of National Merit Scholars.
Brown said the admission selections process is more selective than ever because the university plans to keep the incoming freshman class size on par with last year’s, meaning a target of about 2,800 students. Last year, Northeastern enrolled 2,837.
To whittle down the applicant pool, Brown said the university will be paying closer attention than ever to characteristics that set individual students apart from others.
“You have a lot of students who are similar in those statistics and you need to look at ways students can be unique,” Brown said. “How has the student best prepared themselves for college? What’s this student’s passion? Have they taken leadership roles in these activities? There are no particular activities that are more impressive than others.”
Brown said the influx of freshman applicants will not have an effect on transfer admissions. She said Northeastern still projects to enroll about 500 transfer students for the fall semester.