Enrollment Management VP discusses changes in Rutgers admission process
When Rutgers Enrollment Management vice president’s daughters reached their senior year of high school, he insisted they apply to 40 colleges to compare their admissions process.
But last week, Courtney McAnuff found himself receiving compliments about Rutgers from visiting administrators from the University of Michigan, who were impressed by the diversity of the student body.
McAnuff said the Rutgers application and admissions process has gone through considerable changes over the past few years, beginning with the integration of many different schools in the School of Arts and Sciences in 2006.
Previously, men and women could apply to separate schools within Rutgers, and multiple schools would offer the same major.
“We’ve been doing admissions since 1766,” he said.
Rutgers tries to include a diverse range of students, from rural to urban, in-state and out-of-state, and students from across the spectrum of financial needs. In fact, McAnuff said Rutgers was one of the few Association of American Universities institutions to commit 10 percent of its spaces to low-income students.
Diversity now includes international students as well.
Until four years ago, New Jersey would charge a penalty to Rutgers for every out-of-state student it enrolled, McAnuff said. Governor Chris Christie revoked this rule because he believed Rutgers should have more international focus.
International enrollment has shot up since then, he said.
The University now recruits candidates in 20 countries. They hire Rutgers students who speak a certain language to call families in the evening and speak in their native language about their experiences, he said.
Rutgers has expanded its recruitment process with online resources, he said. They purchase thousands of names of high school seniors each year from corporations like The College Board and ACT, Inc.
Additionally, they use these names to send targeted recruitment emails to possible candidates.
“Depending on what we’re after — we could look for Douglass College … by purchasing the names of high school seniors that indicated interest in women’s colleges,” he said.
What the University no longer does is send physical brochures or pamphlets to student’s homes. Each brochure costs $2, and sending it gives Rutgers no indication of whether the student will apply.
Instead, they can now study the read rates on emails to see whether students are attracted to their message, he said. They put the money saved from brochures into digital communication.
For eighth, ninth and 10th graders, the Rutgers Future website compares high school track records with the Rutgers admissions profile to give them an idea of how they stack up.
Another website lists different summer programs for youths at Rutgers that could potentially sell students on the school, he said.
“The goal is to get campus visits because they are highly correlated with students applying,” he said.
Once they are interested, they have to go through the process of applying through Rutgers’ special application platform. McAnuff said the application has followed the same general template since 2005.
It switched to a self-reported GPA system in 2009 to save money on administration of paper transcripts, he said. Since then, University of Nebraska, University of Florida, Florida State University and Northern Illinois University have followed Rutgers’ lead.
They also have used the same essay question since 2007, which asks about students’ contribution to the diversity of the University.
“We use it to try to find out things about the prospective student,” he said. “Maybe they didn’t have the background to go to Honduras. Maybe they had what we call a negative family contribution, where they have to work to support their family.”
He refers to education the “only equating system in the world.”
Tram Huynh, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said she used the online application but remembers receiving paper pamphlets in the mail.
As a transfer student, she did not go through the typical transcript or essay process, but she did visit campus to cement her decision.
“The application was pretty straightforward,” she said.
She did take advantage of some technology – njtransfer.org helped her figure out what credits would transfer from Atlantic Cape Community College.
Kiran Arshi, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said she was nervous inputting her grades to the application in case she made a mistake.
“I didn’t really understand the purpose, because I was going to give them my transcript anyway [later],” she said.
She applied early action, since her decision was easy — her brother and everyone else she knows went to Rutgers.
McAnuff said early loyalty is exactly what Rutgers aims for. During the football game, he was happy to see four- and five-year-olds wearing Rutgers shirts.
“That’s brand ecstasy that they see themselves there and understand the greatness,” he said.