Incoming Students at SUNY Oswego Among ‘Most Talented Classes’ Ever

<p>The quad at SUNY Oswego. Photo courtesy of SUNY Oswego.</p>
The quad at SUNY Oswego. Photo courtesy of SUNY Oswego.

OSWEGO — This year’s incoming class is one of the “most talented” and diverse ever, said Joe Grant, vice president for student affairs and enrollment.

Oswego received over 10,500 freshman applications, up 38.8 percent since 2005. This means the college has been more selective with admissions, accepting 47 percent this year compared to 56 percent four years ago.

“Not only did we have a larger pool to draw from but, frankly, it was also one of the most talented collections of applications we’ve ever seen,” Grant said.

Average composite SAT score rose to 1110 from 1100 last year. Oswego’s average is not only above the 1016 national mean but high above the 987 average in New York state that dipped a bit this year, Grant said. The average Oswego freshman had a 90 high school average, up from 89.5 last year.

The 198 Presidential Scholars had a mean 1240 SAT composite and 94.4 high school average. Theirs were among 765 merit scholarships for new students, including transfer and residential awards.

Great start

“Summer Orientation was a good sign that the quality of our entering class was quite strong,” Grant said. “The students were well-prepared, very articulate, very interested in becoming involved in the college community.”

Grant said he told the freshmen: “You’re among the most talented classes in the history of the college,” representing some 1,400 out of the 10,500 who applied. “I think that kind of competition going forward is going be to very good,” he added. “We already see strong demand for 2010,” even though the number of students of high school age in New York state, especially Upstate, is shrinking.

With the demographic shift and increased efforts to attract a broad range of students, more are coming from farther away. The largest home county among freshmen is Suffolk County on Long Island, which supplied more than 10 percent of the Class of 2013.

Having students from farther afield contributes to a larger and more diverse residential community, Grant said. For example, 16 percent of incoming freshmen identified themselves as people of color.

Vibrant campus

“Compared to where we were about 10 years ago, we have 800 more students on campus,” Grant said. “That vibrant residential community creates a lot of excitement and opportunity for connections. And, in our Upstate New York community, it has a large economic impact.”

Around 4,040 students took up residence on campus this fall. Grant notes the opening of the Village, the townhouse apartment complex south of Glimmerglass Lagoon, in fall 2010 will add 350 beds and decrease density in some of the residence halls. “We think around 180 of the students in the Village will be students who may have otherwise moved off campus,” he added.

Next fall’s goal is around 4,200 students on campus with the addition of the Village, “with overall a more comfortable living environment, which should help increase student retention and satisfaction, which in turn helps graduation rates,” Grant said.

Total headcount enrollment this semester is more than 8,200 students, with around 7,200 of them full-time.

Transfers and trends

Interest among transfer students, both those who graduated from community colleges and those seeking options more cost-effective than private schools can provide, also rose sharply, Grant said. Oswego had nearly 2,500 transfer applicants, up about 14 percent from a year ago. The 750 incoming transfers brought an average GPA of 3.0.

Another trend, Grant said, is greater interest in the sciences, which also brings a talented pool of applicants. “As we prepare for the new science facilities with a new major in software engineering, and an expected major in electrical and computer engineering, science is really going to be a focus going forward,” he noted. “We expect to see many well-prepared students and attract additional outstanding professors.”

Grant noted that Oswego’s recent honor as one of U.S. News and World Report’s Top Up-and-Coming Schools was based on last fall’s data, while this year’s figures are even better. “Applications are up, SAT and high school averages are up, selectivity is consistent with last year, which should all reflect positively on next year’s rankings,” he said.