Another record-breaking year for applications to UB
Students stroll along the academic spine on the University at Buffalo's North Campus in Amherst, N.Y. Photo: Douglas Levere
April 13, 2017
José Aviles, associate vice provost and director of admissions, University at Buffalo
BUFFALO, N.Y. – 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 José 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
As of April 7, UB has 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 under-represented subgroups,” said
Aviles. In fact, he said, 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
UB’s 2017 admitted freshman class is 51 percent male and
49 percent female, Aviles said, adding that UB is admitting more
women in STEM fields than ever before.
An inkling early on
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 — have also 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 said.
Reinventing the wheel?
That Instant Decision Day in Buffalo, along with other regional
events around the state, helps explain why UB has received more
applications than ever before.
Aviles, who came to UB two years ago, said 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,” Aviles said.
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 said. “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 that 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 said, adding 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. 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,” Aviles added.
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