January 27, 2022

College applications fall

Fewer overall seek admission to SUNY Cortland, TC3

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Rachel Weber, a junior at SUNY Cortland, walks by Randall Hall on Saturday. Local colleges have seen the number of applications reduced in some areas, but they have also seen increases in others.

Across the nation, colleges have seen a drop in applications for admissions because of the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on finances and canceled recruitment opportunities, such as college fairs.

SUNY Cortland and Tompkins Cortland Community College are no exception. Applications for fall admission are down, particularly from downstate students, although they have seen increases in other areas.

By Feb. 1, 10,506 had applied to SUNY Cortland, down from 11,831 applications at this time last year, said Mark Yacavone, the assistant vice president for enrollment management.

About 1,000 of those 1,300 fewer applications would be from students participating in the Educational Opportunity Program, which helps provide financial aid and academic support to students who otherwise wouldn’t attend college, according to the program’s website.

Most of the students taking advantage of the program at SUNY Cortland come from the New York City area, Yacavone said.

Because the city has some of the largest COVID case numbers in the country, Yacavone said SUNY Cortland recruiters haven’t been able to travel there and meet with potential students. “We would have been talking to them and how they could afford college,” he said.

Still, the college is still on track to reach its enrollment targets for the fall of 1,230 freshmen and 530 transfer students, Yacavone said.

Tompkins Cortland Community College has also seen a decrease in applications from high school students, said Greg McCalley, the vice president of student services, said in an email.

While McCalley didn’t provide statistics, he said that, like SUNY Cortland, fewer students from New York and those from disadvantaged backgrounds were applying.

“This seems to be reflective of trends across the nation at community colleges,” he said. “On the flip side, we have seen an increase in the number of adult students, part-time students and students from the immediate area. There are a variety of reasons for this including, a need for skills building, students staying local until the pandemic is under better control and of course, students who are striving to better balance home/work needs with the need for education.”

In adjusting to the pandemic’s limit on in-person interaction, the SUNY system removed the ACT/SAT requirement because the tests have been canceled, Yacavone said.

TC3 hasn’t adjusted its application process, only requiring students to show proof they graduated from high school or an equivalent, McCalley said.

Both colleges also have switched to online and virtual ways of providing information to prospective students, including online panels and virtual open houses. Both Yacavone and McCalley said their colleges’ virtual events have been well attended.

Yacavone, however, said that nothing can compare to walking across campus to get a better feel of what the college is like.

“Our hope is that by the middle/beginning of March, we can develop a safe mechanism to tour the campus outdoors,” he said, pending COVID cases. “Having students on campus will be important for us to do soon as we can again.”