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March 22, 2001

Applications, standards rising at regionals also

Oakland isn't the only Pitt campus where numbers and academic credentials of freshman applicants are increasing.

Freshman applications likewise are up at most of the University's four regional campuses.

That includes "direct applications" from students who apply directly to a regional, as well as applications forwarded through Pitt's Options program, which encourages students rejected by the Pittsburgh campus to consider the Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown or Titusville campuses.

Academic requirements vary among the four regionals but are less rigorous than at the Pittsburgh campus.

Greensburg, the regional campus with the most demanding requirements overall (although individual majors at other campuses may be choosier than certain UPG majors) expects to recruit its most academically accomplished freshman class ever next fall.

"We have been raising the bar each year for the last five years, and the quality continues to increase," said Richard Sparks, Greensburg's director of admissions and financial aid. "Among the 281 students who have made deposits so far, the average combined SAT score is 1027, up from 1007 for last year's freshman class."

Admissions directors at the three other regionals say their fall 2001 freshman applicants are at least as well-qualified academically as any they've recruited before.

* As of March 15, 14,790 students had applied to be Pittsburgh campus freshmen. That's 14.6 percent more than the number who had applied last year at this time, and more than the total (13,565) who applied during all of last year.

Among the 8,879 applicants to whom Oakland has offered admission, about 40 percent graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.

Considering Pitt plans to enroll only about 3,000 freshmen next fall, that leaves thousands of academically capable, potential freshmen for the regionals — although recruiters at UPB, UPG, UPJ and UPT acknowledge it can be a tough sell, convincing students attracted to a sprawling, urban campus like Pittsburgh to consider a small, comparatively quiet regional.

On the other hand, regional enrollments are benefiting from Pitt's growing reputation for excellence, recruiters say.

"The increase in the academic reputation of the University of Pittsburgh has clearly had an impact throughout the system," said James F. Gyure, the Johnstown campus's assistant vice president for enrollment management and director of admissions. "We have benefited from an increase in the number of students who learn about the University of Pittsburgh and then find out about our campus through their initial contact with Oakland."

John Mumford, admissions director at Titusville (the only Pitt campus that doesn't offer four-year degrees), said: "Every year, we enroll students who say their goal is to get a Pitt degree. If it means going to Titusville for a year or two before transferring to Oakland, it's worth it to them. I'd estimate that two-thirds of our students come here thinking they'll go on to Oakland, although some actually end up going to Clarion or Edinboro."

* The Greensburg campus, just 35 miles from Oakland, arguably has benefited most among the regionals from the glut of qualified students applying to Pittsburgh.

Direct applications to UPG are up by 17 percent, from 721 last year at this time to 843. "We expect the number of direct applications to swell to 1,120, which would be an all-time best for us," said admissions director Sparks.

He said Options applications are up by 16 percent, from 1,433 last year at this time to 1,669. Students referred to the Greensburg campus through the Options program typically make up about 10 percent of Greensburg's 500-member freshman classes, Sparks said.

"Our close proximity to Pittsburgh is obviously a recruiting advantage," he said. "Students can come here and still keep in touch with friends in Oakland and become familiar with the Pittsburgh environment. They can attend concerts and sports events in Pittsburgh."

At Bradford, the most distant Pitt regional campus from Oakland, Options program applications have more than doubled — from 1,056 last year at this time to 2,128. Few of these students are expected to be among the 275 UPB freshman projected for next fall, however. Last year, only 4 percent of Bradford's freshman class was recruited through the Options program. "We're hoping to increase that to 5 percent next fall," said UPB admissions director Alexander P. Nazemetz.

"The great majority of our students come from northwestern Pennsylvania," he said. "Anybody below the Route 80 mark is unlikely to enroll at our campus.

"Actually, we're happy that we're not very dependent on the Options program," Nazemetz added. "In the long run, it seems inevitable that applications to the Pittsburgh campus will decrease as students and guidance counselors catch on to the higher standards" in Oakland.

Direct admissions to Bradford are down, from 400 last year at this time to 349 this month, but the average SAT score among those students has increased from 995 last year to 1,011.

Nazemetz said UPB is recruiting more selectively. "We've purchased 40,000 fewer names [of potential freshmen] this year for our mailings," he said. "We didn't blanket the state as we have in the past."

At Johnstown, 1,934 students have applied to be freshmen next fall, an 8 percent increase over last year at this time.

"We're still in the middle of the recruiting process, but it appears that this year's applicant group is at least equal to, and may be better than, last year's," said UPJ assistant vice president Gyure. In recent years, he said, the average SAT score among UPJ freshmen has been 1050, and 80 percent graduated in the top half of their high school classes.

Of Johnstown's 1,934 freshman applicants, only 140 (85 percent of them engineering students attracted to UPJ's engineering technology program) were referred through the Options program.

Until this year, Johnstown had asked the Pittsburgh campus Admissions office to refer only engineering students. This year, UPJ asked Oakland to also refer arts and sciences students from a five-county region surrounding Johnstown.

Some 150 students have applied directly for admission to the Titusville campus next fall, a 15 percent increase over last year at this time. The campus hopes for a freshman class of 245, about the same as in fall 2000, according to admissions director Mumford.

Options program applications are way up, from 1,200 to 3,134, but that's largely because the Pittsburgh campus is turning away more students, and Titusville will accept students that other Pitt campuses won't consider.

The average SAT score among Titusville freshmen in recent years has been 920 to 930, and half of UPT freshmen must take remedial algebra before enrolling in Titusville's undergraduate-level algebra course.

"We are the only Pitt campus that will look at students in the fourth fifth of their high school classes," Mumford said. "We're willing to take some special cases. Last week, for example, we heard from an applicant with an SAT score of 1540 who ranked something like 530th in a high school graduating class of 550. A kid like that, none of the other four Pitt campuses would even look at. But we're willing to offer provisional admission, meaning that if students do well in their first semester here they can continue."

— Bruce Steele

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