Published April 14, 2017
Last year was a historic one for UB, which received more than 25,600 applications for undergraduate admission, the most ever. This year, however, is even better.
With only a few weeks remaining before the May 1 deadline, domestic applications to UB are up 7.5 percent compared to 2016, according to Jose Aviles, UB associate vice provost and director of admissions. Aviles is projecting UB will crest the 27,000 mark this year, making it another record-setting year for the university.
As of April 7, UB had received 26,867 freshman applications, up by more than 1,800 from this point last spring — by raw count the largest increase among all SUNY campuses. (The final domestic application count for 2016 was 25,658.)
“The 2017 applicant pool is bigger, stronger academically, more geographically diverse and more gender balanced, and it’s much more diverse in terms of the percentage of students coming from historically underrepresented subgroups,” Aviles says. In fact, he says 54 percent of this year’s applicant pool is non-white. UB saw a 7.8 percent increase in applications received from American Indian, Black, Asian, Hispanic and Pacific Islander students.
UB’s 2017 admitted freshman class is 51 percent male and 49 percent female, Aviles says, adding that UB is admitting more women in STEM fields than ever before.
Admissions officials had an inkling in the fall that 2017 might be another historic year for applications received by UB. Interested students lined up out the door and around the block waiting to speak with UB admissions advisers at a regional session in Brooklyn. And a reception on Long Island for admitted students earlier this month was attended by more than 300 guests.
The enthusiasm for UB hasn’t come only from downstate. Prospective students from Western New York — and especially within the Buffalo Public Schools — also have responded well to admissions events UB has held.
In January, UB held its first-ever Instant Decision Day at the Belle Center on Buffalo’s West Side. Students got to meet with an admissions counselor, have their application reviewed and receive a decision that same day. “There was a great energy in that room, with a lot of hopeful students looking to come to UB from the city of Buffalo,” Aviles says.
That Instant Decision Day in Buffalo, along with other regional events around the state, help explain why UB has received more applications than ever before. Aviles, who came to UB two years ago, says he and his team of approximately 20 admissions counselors aren’t reinventing the wheel when it comes to student recruitment.
“There has been a lot of stock put into new ways of recruiting students — social media and video assets, for example. But for UB’s admissions office, these last two years that have been historic, it’s been done through tried-and-true methods of recruitment: getting out on the road, having conversations, being clear about your message, following up with students, inspiring them to think about themselves here, and making this place, which can look large at times, feel small and personal,” he says.
The admissions outreach was supported by UB’s new brand strategy, which is entering its second year. This strategy brings to life UB’s prominence and distinctiveness by telling stories about how UB students pursue excellence in the classroom, perform impactful research alongside extraordinary faculty and prepare to take on the world.
The messages are clear: UB is one of the nation’s top public research universities. Students are taught by world-class faculty. It’s a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. Ninety-four percent of UB undergraduates go on to grad school, enter the workforce or join service organizations. UB remains a tremendous value. And Buffalo is a city on the rise, which means there are more internship and job opportunities available to students.
But one of the most successful strategies, according to Aviles, has been UB’s emphasis on offering admissions decisions faster than many other schools — and without sacrificing on the quality of applicants admitted.
“We are consistently hearing at these regional receptions ‘UB was the first college that admitted me,’” Aviles says. “We’ve been able to manage a process that ensures we are getting the best applicants in our pool admitted, and we’re doing it faster than anybody else.”
In addition, the holistic review process UB implemented starting last year has ensured the quality of the incoming class remains strong. “I’m confident that this year’s class will be the most academically accomplished class we’ve ever had,” Aviles says, noting that the incoming class’ SAT profile is significantly higher than last year’s.
“Our staff are trained to look for key characteristics within an application — including the evaluation of the student’s essay and recommendations — that we know correlate with student success in the college environment” he adds. “Students aren’t defined by just a test score. There’s so much more to who they are and the talents that they bring, and I think our review process now honors all of that.”