CUNY to Start Wait List, Tighten Deadlines

Record enrollment forces CUNY to impose hard deadline

By Juan De Jesus
|  Tuesday, Jun 22, 2010  |  Updated 6:47 PM EDT
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CUNY to Start Wait List, Tighten Deadlines

Hunter.CUNY

The CUNY Graduate Center

For the first time in its history, the City University of New York, more commonly known as CUNY, will implement a strict deadline and wait list for the Fall 2010 semester.

The decision by CUNY administrators was reached after a record number of students that have expressed interest in attending the university.  The university had received more than 70,000 applications for fall 2010 in late April 2010. This number was greater than the total number of applications received during the entire 2009-application period.

CUNY “joins the mainstream of highly regarded universities that routinely employ waiting lists in order to manage the available space," Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said.

The record enrollment comes during the economic downturn of the past two years that has affected scores of New Yorkers and people across the country.  Americans who have either lost their job or were forced to take pay cuts have opted to return  to school or pursue a new career, analysts say.

The new deadline and wait list also comes at a time when 64 percent of high school students in the New York City School system are being accepted into the CUNY system. Couple that with a growing number of students that are approaching graduation, and the end result is a strain on the admissions process, research by the City Council indicates.

The enrollment forced the university to close its admissions process to incoming freshman on May 8th and June 2nd for transfer students. 

CUNY is the largest urban university in the United States. The university has historically served a diverse student body. It has also distinguished itself by its emphasis in providing education for those unable to afford private universities with almost half of all students enrolled at senior colleges coming from households earning less than $30,000 a year.

Enrollment has grown to 267,000 this coming fall. This increase is more heavily felt in the community colleges. Currently the university has six community colleges throughout the five boroughs.

The six community college presidents, who attended a hearing today on the matter, said the cutoff is needed in order for the university to maintain its academic standards. 

CUNY has historically accepted late applicants into the community colleges through the first day of class. But with two-year college enrollment growing by more than 40 percent since 2000, the University has sought new ways to maintain rigorous academic standards.

To deal with the influx of applicants, high school guidance counselors and prospective students, especially in the city’s public schools, were advised of a Feb. 1, 2010, application deadline with applications then being reviewed on a the basis of available space.

Felix Matos Rodriguez, president of Hostos Community College in the Bronx stated, “We should establish and adhere to deadlines, it is the key to success.”

Seeing the increase the university announced via its website that applications received after May 7th would go to a waiting list.
According to executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost Alexandra Logue, by the second week of June, approximately 2,460 students had submitted their applications after the May 7 deadline.

Colleges eventually have the final say to allow some wait-listed students if some of their accepted students fail to show. The wait-listed students also are given first priority for admission in the spring.

Late applicants who need to remedial classes or to further prepare them for college-level work will be directed the CUNY Start program.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Higher Education Committee, said “While we would prefer that all qualified applicants on the waiting list be admitted to CUNY as quickly as possible, this new, low-cost alternative is the right thing to do.  The additional help provided by CUNY Start will ensure greater student success in college.”

CUNY Start is modeled on the highly successful CUNY Language Immersion, a program offered to immigrants and non-English speakers who are seeking to improve their English-language skills before enrolling into a community college, and the College Transition Initiative, which offers an intensive pre-college math, academic reading/writing and college advisement program to prepare GED graduates for a successful transition to college level studies.

The new program will provide ten hours a week of instruction over thirteen weeks to eligible students starting in early September through December. Courses will be in subjects like pre-college math or academic reading and writing. The classes offered to the student will depend upon the results of CUNY assessment test.

A fee of $75 dollars will be charged, comparable with the existing Language Immersion Program and the College Transition Initiative.  On and off-campus space will be utilized, and day, evening and weekend courses are expected to be offered. 
At the conclusion of the semester in December, participants will be retested on the CUNY Assessment Tests to determine their progress.

The new policy was established to prevent the decline of success of students at CUNY campuses system wide.
Late admissions students tend to need remediation in basic skills and a trend shows that many are not prepared for college level work.

Logue emphatically said, “ We owe out students more than just a letter of admission.”

Officials hope that students who take part in the new program will see greater academic success. It also hopes to accelerate their academic progression by matching their career goals to CUNY’s academic offerings as well as informing them of any special services that CUNY has to offer.

The CUNY Office of Academic Affairs will oversee the “Start” program with the CUNY Office of Institutional Research and Assessment evaluating student achievement data to determine the effectiveness of the intervention in reducing the amount of remediation needed by participants.

Currently the increasing enrollments come when the University’s has been successful in upgrading campuses.
Plans are proceeding for a new community college designed to improve graduation rates. The new college will be temporarily housed in leased space on West 40th Street before making its home near John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  The new college will not be ready until 2012.
 

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