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November 23, 2016

Admissions office expands recruiting areas

Faced with the prospect of up to a 30 percent drop in graduating high school seniors within a 300-mile radius of the University, Pitt’s admissions staff is broadening its recruitment focus.

Major recruiting for freshman students is focused on a 300-mile radius of the University — the distance most students are willing to go to attend college, said Kellie Kane, Office of Admissions and Financial Aid director of operations and strategic planning. The 300-mile radius remains a key market, but recruitment efforts also are targeting areas with high concentrations of Pitt alumni and the Atlantic Coast Conference states where Pitt athletic events are televised, Kane said in a recent presentation to the University Senate student aid, admissions and affairs committee (SAAA).

Pitt has recruiters stationed in Texas, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and the Washington, D.C./Maryland area and within the next year will add a New England recruiter as well as a California-based one, she said.

Pitt’s incoming class

Pitt welcomed 4,836 new undergraduates on the Pittsburgh campus this fall — 4,035 freshmen and 801 external transfer students.

Sixty-four percent of the new students come from Pennsylvania, she said. And the percentage from Allegheny County rose this year to 18 percent, up from 13 percent in the prior year.

The group represents 43 states and includes 162 international students from 28 countries.

Including international students, nearly 39 percent of the new students are minorities. “We are looking to both increase numbers and diversity of our international students, to bring a lot more of that culture here onto campus,” Kane said.

Expanding access

For the first time, Pitt and Penn State are together in a shared application portal as part of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, Kane said. The group ( includes more than 95 colleges and universities that have joined the platform of online tools designed to smooth the process of applying to college. In part, the group aims to help low-income and first-generation students navigate the admission process and prepare for college.

Kane described, a new micro-scholarship program through which low-income and other qualifying students can earn up to $7,000 a year in scholarships good on any Pitt campus, through academic and leadership activities beginning in ninth grade. For instance, students can earn $150 for an A in a core course or $400 for taking a leadership role in a school activity, she said.

The hope is to begin engaging high schoolers in their freshman year, she said, but sophomores, juniors and seniors can retroactively enter their activities to earn the scholarship dollars, she said.

In other business:

• The committee reviewed a draft financial aid satisfactory academic progress policy that, in part, would increase the minimum GPA for graduate students to remain eligible for federal financial aid from 2.0 to 3.0, to match the graduation requirement for Pitt’s graduate programs (except in law, which has a 2.0 graduation requirement).

• Alberta Sbragia, vice provost for graduate studies, updated SAAA on enhanced communications and support for Pitt’s graduate students.

The committee last year focused on the graduate student experience and recommended improved communication, support for graduate students and for Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) activities. (See April 14 University Times.)

• GPSG has received permission from the provost to email one newsletter each semester to all graduate and professional students at Pitt. “We are very conscious that we don’t want many mass emails going out to our students,” Sbragia said. The first newsletter was sent Oct. 25 to all 9,718 graduate and professional students at Pitt, Sbragia said. Another will be sent in spring term.

• Two new websites are linked to Pitt’s home page:

Resources for grad students can be found by clicking on grad/professional under the “academics” tab at

Topics include health and wellness; diversity and inclusion; career planning; city information; parenting; safety; and teaching support.

The site points prospective students toward resources as well as to, which provides an overview of the city that she said is especially helpful for applicants from outside the region and outside the United States.

The Center for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Career Development’s new website at includes a campus-wide career and professional development event calendar.
Sbragia said staffer Jennifer Walker works closely with GPSG to support its initiatives. In addition to her work on improving communication via the newsletter and website, Walker is helping GPSG set up procedures for preserving institutional memory, background that is important for incoming GPSG officers.

—Kimberly K. Barlow 

Filed under: Feature,Volume 49 Issue 7

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