CUNY Enrollment Skyrockets

Tristan Wright-Crishon, a student in the popular Accelerated Study in Associates Program (ASAP), works in a music technology lab at Queensborough Community College.

As a senior at Townsend Harris High School, Bari Nadworny had choices. With a 97 percent grade point average and a 1950 SAT score, the 18-year-old from Fresh Meadows was eagerly sought by Boston University, SUNY-Binghamton and Macaulay Honors College at Queens College.

She chose Macaulay at Queens because of its rigorous academic program and because she has always loved the “beauty and diversity” of the campus. An added bonus: It’s close to home.

A freshman who now plans to major in political science, Nadworny is emblematic of the high academic achievers with top-tier grades and competitive SAT scores who are choosing the colleges of The City University of New York. Nadworny graduated from one of five elite New York City public high schools — Stuyvesant High School, Brooklyn Technical, Staten Island Technical, Bronx High School of Science and Townsend Harris — that sent 505 freshmen to CUNY colleges in fall, 2008, a 27 percent increase from fall, 1999.

But the University’s newfound popularity among high academic achievers extends beyond these five prestigious high schools. From the ranks of all public and private schools across the five boroughs and the metropolitan area, CUNY's colleges are attracting an astounding 166 percent more first-time freshmen with combined math-verbal SAT scores of 1200 or higher — 1,487 such students compared to 559 in 1999. And since 1999, the colleges have more than doubled their enrollment of first-time freshmen with high-school averages of 85 or better, according to University data on the fall, 2008 freshman class.

The resounding vote of confidence from high academic achievers is even outpacing the University record enrollment growth on a percentage basis. CUNY’s fall 2008 enrollment is at 244,253, up 4.8 percent from fall 2007, when 232,960 students matriculated. This is the ninth consecutive year of enrollment gains. More students are seeking degrees and studying at campuses across the five boroughs than at any time since the mid-1970s.

“In difficult economic times, students and their families especially appreciate the high value of an education at a CUNY college,” said Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “We are investing in CUNY by attracting world-class faculty, building modern facilities and creating innovative academic programs in the most exciting city in the world. The University today is among the best values in higher education.”

CUNY continues to draw an increasingly diverse student body. From 1999 to fall 2008, among first-time freshmen, the number of Asian students increased 76.6 percent, from 3,364 to 5,941, and the number of Hispanic students rose 62.8 percent, from 7,136 to 11,620. Black student enrollment went up 30.3 percent, from 7,262 to 9,466, while white student enrollment increased 24.4 percent, from 6,232 to 7,753, during the same period.

Enrollment has also reached record levels for non-degree students taking adult, continuing and professional education classes. The University counted 270,725 enrollments in 2007-2008, an increase of more than 40,000 over the previous year.

Other notable enrollment trends this fall include increases in both full- and part-time study at the undergraduate and graduate levels; in professional training and in degree programs that offer flexible modes of learning.

Beyond the traditional fall-spring semester model, the University promoted a feast of “Summer in the City” classes and activities this past summer — yielding a 4.8 percent enrollment increase over the summer of 2007. CUNY is also gearing up for Winter Session ’09. The shorter sessions are quick, intensive opportunities to earn academic credits, and are expected to boost year-round enrollments even more by exposing CUNY and non-CUNY students to the University and its affordable offerings.

The fall 2008 preliminary enrollment data show the University building upon a wave of student increases that began in 2000, when CUNY implemented administrative and academic reforms that have boosted its reputation nationwide.

Besides adding the outstanding new faculty teaching at CUNY this fall, the University continues to strengthen its science programs in part by expanding Ph.D.-granting authority to two science-focused senior colleges, City and Hunter; by modernizing science facilities in all five boroughs; and by hewing to its mission to expand educational opportunities for one of the most diverse student populations in the world.

This fall, every CUNY sector, from senior colleges to community colleges to graduate programs, posted notable enrollment increases compared with fall 2007.

CUNY’s community colleges saw the largest gains overall, 5.9 percent, with Borough of Manhattan Community College in the vanguard with a 10.9 percent increase, followed by Kingsborough, 7.7 percent, and Queensborough, 5.3 percent.
Among the senior colleges, Medgar Evers in Brooklyn saw the biggest burst upward, 11 percent, compared with fall 2007. York College followed with a 5.6 percent jump, and College of Staten Island’s enrollment went up by 5.2
percent.

CUNY’s graduate schools and programs saw a 5.6 percent overall increase. The School of Professional Studies, which includes the popular and flexible CUNY Online Baccalaureate degree, reported a 39.1 percent leap. At CUNY Graduate School of Journalism — now entering its third year and offering an innovative journalism, broadcast news and new media curriculum culminating in a Master of Arts degree — enrollment increased by just over 10 percent.

Enrollment of first-time fresh-men was up 5.3 percent University-wide, with the biggest gain at the School of Professional Studies, 28 percent; at Medgar Evers, the gain was 24.2 percent; and at Lehman, 14.9 percent, among the senior colleges. Among the community colleges, BMCC (24.3 percent), Kingsborough (13.5 percent) and Hostos (13.5 percent) posted the highest increases.