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Big and Strong

This year, they come from some 63 countries and 43 states. Three out of four of them are women and 37 percent identify themselves as non-white—the most diverse class in Teachers College history. And taken together, they’re big—in numbers and aspirations.
Buoyed by a six percent increase in applications, a result attributable at least in part to TC's lowest percentage increase in tuition in decades, Teachers College’s entering class is more than 1,800 strong—the largest since the mid-1970s.
 
“You are a great group: large and diverse,” President Susan Fuhrman said during the New Student Experience/Orientation held in the Cowin Center in early September. “Thirty-seven years ago, I was sitting where you’re sitting. Of course, it wasn’t in this beautiful new auditorium. It was some room that we hopefully have renovated since. I did hear all about how TC would change my life and, in fact, it did. And I hear almost daily from alumni I meet about how TC was one of the most important experiences they had in their lives. So you’ve made the right decision—education is a growth industry.”
 
A downturn in the economy also tends to lead more people to opt for graduate school. During this past admissions cycle, universities across the country did generally experience an increase in applicants. At the University of California at Berkeley, for example, the number of applications for graduate programs increased six percent from the previous year. The number of applicants to Princeton University’s graduate programs, meanwhile, jumped 10 percent, but the increase wasn’t across the board. Applications to its master’s degree in finance, for example, fell by more than 10 percent.
 
It’s unclear what the overall impact of a tight labor market and high unemployment has had on enrollments at education schools across the country, but TC did experience increased interest from those looking to change careers, said Thomas Rock, Executive Director of Enrollment Services.
 
As a result, the admissions office worked with the College’s various master’s degree admissions committees to extend application deadlines. Given the turbulent economic conditions throughout the spring, Rock said it made sense to allow undergraduates who may have initially intended to take a teaching position but couldn’t find work because of hiring freezes or those considering a career change to apply to TC after the April 15 deadline.
 
Some programs did extend their deadlines and others moved to rolling admissions. The admissions office then redoubled its efforts to reach prospective students by, among other things, holding an information session for career changers in June.
 
In the end, TC took in more than 5,800 applications, and once students were admitted, the admissions office tried new initiatives in an effort to get them to enroll, including sending them a welcome video from Fuhrman, creating personalized URLs or Web addresses for each admitted student to access their TC information, and launching a Facebook site for admitted students to connect with one another.
 
“I felt that this year, we did everything humanly possible to reach out to students—short of packing their bags and helping fill their U Hauls and drive to TC,” Rock said. “It’s remarkable, and I think, institutionally, the College really needed this. We were also much more strategic in our use of institutional scholarship and financial aid money. The financial aid staff helped tremendously in our ability to yield students. They understood their important role in the recruitment and retention of a strong incoming class and staff members in both admissions and financial aid worked in tandem to assist admitted students throughout summer. I think we benefited. The quality of the students was very high and everything really aligned quite well.”
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