Applications to Oswego rise amid stormy economic climate

campus tourWhile the economic downturn has caused challenges everywhere, it continues an upturn for applications to SUNY Oswego.

Applications rose 7 percent for freshmen—topping 10,000—and, as of mid-March, a steep 26.6 percent gain for transfers. Interest in transferring from a private to state schools like Oswego appears increasingly popular in the economic climate, but Joe Grant, vice president for enrollment and student affairs, noted the interest in SUNY Oswego also involves things the college is doing right.

“If you didn’t have the right programs, the right people and the right facilities, people wouldn’t be interested in transferring here,” he said. Students and families are seeing Oswego as a good value and worthy investment, Grant added.

“We have a broad range of academic options that appeal to people,” Grant said. “We’re big enough for those offerings, but not so large that you’ll get lost, as we can still offer personal attention. And we’ve made amazing strides the past few years in curb appeal, in terms of attractive places to live and study.”

Dan Griffin, Oswego’s associate director of admissions, said those factors helped drive freshman applications up more than 40 percent from six years ago. The number of early decision applications committing to Oswego doubled this year, with many students making their minds up earlier. With more applications, Oswego can be more selective, he said, while private schools are admitting larger percentages with the economy driving down applications to pricier colleges.

But while the college accepts around 5,000 freshmen, traditionally expecting about 1,400 to enroll, final enrollment figures may take longer to gauge this year if those facing financial strain wait until closer to the May 1 deadline to make their deposits and related commitments, Griffin added.

In other trends, SUNY Oswego’s department of biological sciences saw the biggest rise in interested majors, with part of that perhaps reflecting some students considering a gateway into the job-rich medical field, Griffin said. The new School of Communication, Media and the Arts and the traditionally strong School of Education saw surging interest, as did such majors as cinema studies, creative writing, English, history, political science and psychology.

Economic factors have not discouraged applications from further afield. Applications continue to rise from more populous areas of the state, up 9 percent from the Lower Hudson Valley, and 7 percent each from Long Island and New York City, while out-of-state applications also rose, Griffin noted.

Grant said this geographic trend stems from efforts to bring students from those areas to add diversity to the college, and these students tend to live in residence halls to add sought-after vibrancy to campus. That 4,100 of Oswego’s around 6,700 full-time undergraduates live on campus also helps draw because students and their families are looking for that kind of residential experience, he added.

On the flip side, Oswego and other state schools are dealing with budget challenges, but “we were prepared for it,” Grant said. “Hopefully, the state budget will get back on track and we can continue to be an asset for the people of the state.”

For more information on applying to Oswego, visit

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PHOTO CAPTION: Picture perfect—John Gerry of Delmar, whose daughter Grace was accepted to SUNY Oswego, takes a picture of the Campus Center arena and convocation hall during a recent campus tour. SUNY Oswego’s status as an economic value, its range of programs and attractive facilities have led to a 7 percent rise in freshman applications and a 26.6 percent jump in transfer applications, admissions representatives said.

(Posted: Mar 18, 2009)

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