SDSU receives record number of applicants

by Diana Crofts-Pelayo

Antonio  Zaragoza, Photo Editor
Antonio Zaragoza, Photo Editor

San Diego State received a record number of applications for the fall semester.

As of Jan. 6, 69,335 potential undergraduate students applied to the university, almost 10,000 more applicants than last year during the same time period. The number reflects first-time freshman and transfer students; local, non-local, out-of-state and international.

Among the applicants, 50,806 are first-time freshmen and more than 18,384 are upper-division.

Sandra Cook, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, Enrollment Services, said one reason for the increase in applicants could be students and families are realizing the uncertainties in the economy, so they are evaluating the cost of going to more expensive colleges.

Cook said she understands going to a California State University school is not “pocket change,” but it is still affordable in comparison to University of California campuses and private schools.

The CSU system received a record number of undergraduate applications. First-time freshman and transfer students submitted 665,860 applications. There were 258,834 distinct applicants because potential students typically apply to multiple CSU campuses.

“Going to SDSU is a good investment, even if you have to take out loans,” Cook said. “For less than the price of a car, you have an education.”

In the past, SDSU has had the stereotype of being a back-up school; however, in recent years Cook has seen the views about the school change to that of a premier university.

Rob O’Keefe, Associated Students’ Vice President of Finance, said the increase in applications reflects well on SDSU’s academics. Because the school can only admit a fraction of students who apply, it is highly selective.

“For the past five to six years, SDSU has had new classes come in with standards higher than before,” O’Keefe said. “It’s a great opportunity to come to San Diego State.”

SDSU President Elliot Hirshman said in an email the efforts of the SDSU faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners have allowed for the university’s reputation to grow.

“The progress we have made in academic programs, student life, research and creative endeavors and athletics, among other areas, has established San Diego State University as a top choice for students in California and across the country,” he said.

According to Cook, local students often take SDSU for granted, while non-local students find it more difficult to be accepted because students within the school’s service area have lower requirements. The service area for San Diego State is south of California State Route 56. Anything above that boundary is considered out of the service area or non-local.

Despite the increase in tuition during the last few semesters, she said higher education changes lives. It is an investment that will benefit everyone because society needs an educated workforce.

Cook said every segment of the education system is hurting because of the budget crisis, and students are being affected.

Although O’Keefe said he does not specifically endorse raising the tuition at SDSU; because of the economic downturn, he said it has to happen in order to provide the same level of education.

According to Hirshman, the school is committed to maintaining access and excellence for students.

“Despite the state’s challenges, our goal will be to enroll the same number of students in the fall of 2012 as in the fall of 2011,” he said. “In this context, we will also be maintaining our target enrollment proportion for students from our local service area.”

O’Keefe said when universities have nationwide media exposure, there is always a likelihood of high application rates. With the recent attention the football and basketball teams have garnered at SDSU, families are giving the university a second look. SDSU’s move in 2013 to the Big East Conference as a football-only member is a new spotlight for the school.

“By doing this, we have joined media markets on the East Coast, which will give us more exposure,” O’Keefe said.

He said the morale at SDSU has increased, with the campus appreciating and supporting team sports.

Cook said high-achieving students were notified of their acceptance to SDSU in December, while the rest of the applicants will be notified by March.

In the end, Cook said that it is not about how many students apply or are admitted, it is most important for those students to graduate.