By Allen Valdez, March 16, 2021
Cal Poly Pomona saw a record number of applicants for the fall 2021 term, a rise attributed by admissions and outreach administrators to the university’s prowess in attracting prospective students through technology and empathetic policies.
The unusual number of applicants were handled by teams in the Office of Admissions and Office of Outreach, Recruitment & Educational Partnerships as they navigated through the pandemic during peak admission season.
Brandon Tuck, director of admissions, was shocked by the record increase in applications.
“It was a record high,” Tuck said. “Overall, for undergraduate applications for fall ‘21, we were 4.5% higher than the previous year; however, we were up in freshmen by slightly over 8% and transfers were down about 3.4%. So, even though we were up overall, that increase really came from the freshmen population.” Tuck elaborated on how the admissions office dealt with the pandemic by becoming more accommodating to students during that time.
“Realizing that COVID may have hampered their health, health of a loved one, financial situation and also their academic situation going from in-person to online,” Tuck said. “We wanted to take all those things into account.”
According to Tuck, last year the admissions office, under California State University guidance, allowed leniency in applications for prospective students due to the impact of the pandemic. Exceptions included extensions on submissions of transcripts, offer acceptance and lowering required transfer units from 60 to 48. Admissions also created a new multi-factor admission model that looks at GPA but also nonacademic factors such as work experience, leadership positions and more. For fall 2021, however, admissions are operating as normal as can be under the usual policies.
China Pour, senior coordinator for the Office of Outreach, Recruitment & Educational Partnerships, worked to engage more prospective students, detailing live sessions with counselors, providing one-on-one pre-admission advising and offering live virtual tours that showed an aerial view of campus. “What the pandemic has probably taught all of us is that technology is here to stay and there are things that will really help the students,” Pour said.
Some students appreciated the gesture regarding extensions of required documents for admission, like recently admitted mechanical engineering transfer student, Nadim Chehab.
“I feel like it gives people a better chance to pursue a degree because I’m pretty sure a lot of people would love to do engineering and getting into Pomona is such a big opportunity,” Chehab said. “It gives people the opportunity to succeed.”
According to an article by the Los Angeles Times, CSU campuses such as Pomona, Long Beach, Fullerton, San Diego and San Luis Obispo increased in applicants or stayed relatively the same. For the most part, however, CSU campuses saw a decline in applications by 5% throughout its 23 campuses. Pour discussed how effective the outreach and recruitment process has been for the increase in applicants.
“We’re able to connect with a lot more students and families and that, in turn, yields more applications so for us,” Pour said. “It’s been a really great opportunity to really utilize this virtual format to make those touch points.”
Chehab explained how different his application and pre-admission process was because of the pandemic.
“I haven’t had a chance to tour, I guess because of corona maybe,” Chehab said. “I haven’t toured a single university in my life, but I did apply to other schools.”
Pour hopes this experience of virtual recruitment can pave the way for improvements and changes for the next recruitment cycles.
“The campus community is really trying to be at the pulse and forefront of making sure we have as many opportunities as we can to engage with students,” Pour said. “We’re able to build and establish relationships that, prior to this, we didn’t have and that only helps us in the long run when we are in-person or just in the future with just being able to build out the community.”
For more information regarding fall 2021 recruitment and pre-admission resources, visit https://www.cpp.edu/outreach/index.shtml
Feature image by Lauren Bruno.
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