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First-year enrollment at Fredonia climbs, tops 1,150 students
Monday, August 21, 2017

First-year enrollment at Fredonia climbs, tops 1,150 students

Part of the 2017 Move-In Crew

The second-largest class of first-year students at Fredonia settled into their residence halls during “Move-In Weekend,” marking the first time since the 2014-2015 academic year that the campus enrolled more than 1,000 first-year students.

“We’re at 1,164 first-year students, which is quite a bit more than last year. Our target was around 1,000,” reported Director of Admissions Cory Bezek. In fact, this year’s entering class is nearly 25 percent larger than the corresponding class of 934 students in 2016-2017, and it easily surpasses – by more than 16 percent – the university’s goal for 2017-2018. First-year students numbered 926 in 2015-2016 and 1,072 in 2014-15.

“We were excited to welcome them for Move-In Weekend, and look forward to seeing what they can accomplish at Fredonia,” Mr. Bezek said.

The large number of entering students was achieved despite an ever- shrinking pool of high school graduates in New York State. Fredonia’s largest incoming class (1,187) was recorded in 2008-2009, the year high school senior enrollment peaked in the state.

Administrators attribute much of the upturn to the roll out a year ago of the university’s Strategic Enrollment Management plan that expands the recruitment cycle and brings numerous campus constituents into the admissions process.

“Building enrollment is a collaborative effort across the entire campus. A lot of this increase is a result of the SEM (Strategic Enrollment Management) planning that we’ve been doing,” Bezek said.

Fredonia formerly utilized the traditional admissions funnel that begins by casting a broad net and then narrowing that down to students who actually apply for admission, explained Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services Cedric Howard. “We are now very strategic using our SEM model to target students based on their interests at Fredonia.”

The Admissions staff is now reaching out to prospective students – two, three or four years in advance –with the goal of recruiting an incoming class of students more than a year prior to their actual enrollment.

Turnaround time to process applications has been sharply reduced. “We decreased the processing time for first-year applications from an average of 28 days down to just five days this year, meaning that we’re getting the academic decision to students in less than one week after they had submitted a completed application,” Bezek said.

Over the last year, Fredonia has given more attention to details of the admissions process, Dr. Howard added, paying attention to how the student interacts with the admissions process, from beginning to the end. “An important distinction is making sure that we acknowledge the student’s experience at important periods of the (admissions) process,” he explained.

“When students receive an admissions letter, they are also getting financial aid information in the same packet,” Howard added. Initial scholarship offers are also being placed inside acceptance packets. Scholarship offers were previously mailed out two to four weeks after letters of acceptance were issued.

Also new are welcoming letters that accepted students receive from academic departments, according to their academic interest, Bezek said. “For example, World Languages and Cultures wrote letters (to students) in the language that they’re going to be studying, so French faculty write letters in French. I thought that was pretty unique.”

Bezek also indicated that the Marketing and Communications office has greatly expanded use of various forms of social media and video to promote the university to prospective students.

“We’re very pleased with our growth in first-year students in the Fall 2017 admissions cycle,” said Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services Daniel M. Tramuta. His department looks forward to position the campus for an expanded new student cohort for Fall 2018 and beyond.

“I want to acknowledge our faculty and staff for the critical role they play in the new student recruitment process and thank them for their contributions to our overall recruitment and enrollment efforts,” Mr. Tramuta said.

Howard also applauded the progress that the Admissions office has achieved and support given by academic departments, but noted “we still have a lot more work to do. This is the first phase of our development.”

Lancaster, N.Y., native Kevin Loftus is among first-year students who found a home at Fredonia. And he’s not the first Fredonian in his family. In addition to his father, Patrick, who received a Fredonia degree in 1988. Also in the Fredonia family are Matt Loftus (cousin), Melanie Lorkowski Meller (his mother’s cousin) and Allison Brachikowski Schwabb and Rachel Brachikowski (both second cousins).

“I liked the location of it; it’s close to home and the SUNY school’s price was awesome,” said Mr. Loftus, who plans to major in Accounting and Business and also continue his athletic career with the Blue Devils men’s soccer team.

Loftus acknowledges that his father, Patrick, ’88, was a Fredonia booster. “He loved it, loved the community, has a lot of great memories, met a lot of great people.” Several other family members also attended Fredonia, he noted.

A two-time All-Western New York selection in soccer at Lancaster High School, Mr. Loftus describes head coach P.J. Gondek as a “really awesome guy” and is excited to start the season.

On her first campus visit, Lauren Cullinan knew that she wanted to spend the next four years at Fredonia, where her mother, Cheryl (Jividen) Cullinan, graduated in 1992. Ms. Cullinan says her mother, who still keeps in touch with her friends from college, is very excited about her daughter attending Fredonia.

The opportunity to play soccer and basketball while pursuing an academic career, with a major in Biology, attracted the Clarence High School graduate to Fredonia. “It was evident that Fredonia pushed academic success first and then emphasized athletics, which was something that pulled me in. Also, the way the campus feels is unlike any other one that I visited,” she said. “It just feels like home.”

Where are these additional students coming from and what will they study?

“We’re up almost everywhere,” Bezek said. “Our largest increases are in New York City, up 45 students, Long Island, plus 41, the Southern Tier, plus 33, the Buffalo suburbs, up 29.” In academic departments, Visual Arts and New Media has nearly doubled its first-year enrollment, from 37 to 71 students, while Communication has grown from 43 to 72. Curriculum and Instruction, which trains future teachers, increased its first-year enrollment from 74 to 93.

The percentage of minority students in the incoming class has also grown, to a record 31.6 percent from 25.7 percent.

Bezek indicated that the impact of the new Excelsior Scholarship on first-year enrollment is difficult to gauge because the program, which provides free tuition at SUNY schools, was rolled out late in the application process. “Most students had made up their minds by the time it came out,” he said. It could, though, lead to further enrollment growth.

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