The Big Ten calls for big enrollment numbers at Rutgers

By: Megan Dougherty

Rutgers entered the Big Ten Conference in 2014 and within this first year applicant numbers have increased at a pace the University has never witnessed before.
The University has seen an increase in enrollment in the past based off the popularity of their sport teams and the fact it is The State University of New Jersey. There was a similar spike in numbers in 2007 after the women’s basketball played in the NCAA championship game. However, the trends of the past are small compared to the jump experienced within the last year.
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According to myCentralJersey.com, there are several reasons enrollment numbers have risen for the University since entering the Big Ten. Those reasons include being aired on the Big Ten Network and an increased use of publicity. There have been several commercials, billboards and social media promotions added to public consumption that has brought more awareness to Rutgers, the article said. These tools were not offered in the years prior to Rutgers being a Big Ten University, and now more people are becoming aware of what the school has to offer. The more people know about the University, the higher the enrollment numbers are, the article said.

Courtney McAnuff, vice president for Enrollment Management, said although applications to the University have increased over the last seven years, there was a higher volume of applications, on both an in-state and out-of-state level since entering the Big Ten—a jump he refers to as “unprecedented.” He adds the University has seen a 15 percent increase from domestic applicants since joining the Conference.

Enrollment numbers continue to increase each semester and Rutgers has a limit on how many applicants are accepted to the University. This cap applies to all schools except The School of Engineering and The School of Business, McAnuff said. He explained the cap has yet to apply to the two schools because the business and engineering locations are expecting new facilities which will allocate more space for admittance. Thought he Big Ten has brought more awareness to Rutgers, the application process is not expected to change until fall 2017, McAnuff said.

Misha Verma, a 2015 graduate of Rutgers, recalled her experience applying to the University and the pressure she felt, which she now believes will increase for other students seeking higher education once the selection process becomes more strict.

“Future applicants will be pressured a lot more than I was when I was looking at colleges. Rutgers will have to be very clear about what they[admissions] expect from applicants,” Verma said.

She adds although making the application process more select can hurt some, it can help Rutgers be more careful and selective when choosing applicants to enroll. Students who graduate with a Big Ten degree will benefit as well.

“I think that my future employers will value my degree a lot more than they would if Rutgers just allowed anyone. They will probably see that it was harder for me to get my degree from a school that is so prestigious,” she said.

As mentioned in the article on mycerntraljersey.com, one of the main factors that attract students to a Big Ten university are its academics and increased publicity, McAnuff said.

“The Big Ten brings significantly more media presence. The Big Ten network plays all over the U.S. and whenever Rutgers is playing we get promotional spots. In addition, the Big Ten runs many commercials, which highlight the schools. The Big Ten consists of major research universities and membership implies rigorous academic programs,” he said.

According to DailyNebraskan.com, Rutgers is not the only university to experience increased out-of-state enrollment.After the University of Nebraska-Lincoln joined Big Ten in July 2011 it noticed a spike.

“From fall 2008, three years before UNL’s official move to the Big Ten, to fall 2013, three years after it, the university has experienced a 20 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment among students from the other eight states that make up the Big Ten,” the article said.

McAnuff added that Rutgers is one of the most diverse universities’ in the Big Ten, which is another reason the university has seen a jump in enrollment since 2014.

“Academic reputation and rankings are a big factor. The robust campus life and athletic programs appeal to many applicants. Diversity is a big factor for many students. Our freshman class comes from all 50 states and over 100 countries,” he said.

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