Above: Students visit the York display at the Ontario Universities Fair
More high-school students – with higher grades – are picking York as their first-choice university, according to early provincial enrolment figures for 2005.
Earlier this year York reported another increase in the University’s share of first-choice applications from Ontario secondary school students over 2004, and enrolment data now indicates that the proportion of students at York with averages above 75 per cent rose significantly over last year and those above 80 per cent climbed as well.
Among full-time new students from secondary schools, 85.4 per cent now have an average of 75 per cent or better (81.5 per cent last year) and 54.2 per cent have over 80 per cent (53.1 per cent last year).
All of this adds up to good news for York at a time when some Ontario universities are experiencing a drop-off in applications following the double cohort years. It also provides York recruitment staff with more information to share with the approximately 65,000 prospective students and their parents expected to attend this weekend’s Ontario Universities Fair at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Right: Rob Tiffin, York vice-president students
York is the school of choice for 11.2 per cent of all secondary school applicants, up significantly from 1999 when York’s share of first choice applications was 8.3 per cent. Since 1999 York has moved to second place, behind the University of Toronto, from fourth in the number of first-choice applications from secondary school students. Similar growth has been seen in applications by non-secondary applicants. As a result of the higher confirmation rates this year, York essentially closed admissions to first year in July, the earliest since 1992.
“We were able to raise the cut-off averages and achieve and exceed our enrolment targets,” said Rob Tiffin, York vice-president students.
This year’s figures also show York students are staying here, especially in third and fourth year. Although there appears to be a decline in second-year enrolment this year, Tiffin suggests this may have resulted from more second-year students completing their year through summer courses. But overall, the word on the street is that York is the place to be as more students than ever have confirmed their offers of acceptance to study in one of York’s nine undergraduate faculties.
“We’ve had positive feedback from professors about the first-year students in their classes this year,” Tiffin said. “We’re hearing anecdotal evidence that the students are well prepared for university and engaged. We think it also reflects, to some extent, an improved experience in the classroom.”
In noting the growing word-of-mouth awareness of York among high-school students, Tiffin pointed to the communications strategy developed by staff in the Recruitment & Marketing Unit as a major reason for it. “There’s a general sense that there’s a greater awareness of York within the secondary school community,” Tiffin said. “The numbers show there’s an appreciation of the quality of our programs and the quality of student they’re attracting.”
To help build the buzz about York, Tiffin’s staff has worked with York’s undergraduate faculties to increase the amount of personal contact with students who are considering York. “The whole thrust of our recruitment strategy is to get students to come to York’s campuses,” Tiffin explained. “Once they see the Glendon and Keele campuses and meet people from the faculties and colleges, they have a greater appreciation of what it’s like to be a member of the York community.”
Tiffin also pointed to the work of York’s Marketing & Communications Division, which helped create the award-winning printed material and view books (left) students received as they were deciding which university to attend. Designed after close consultation with the faculties, the materials play a critical role in York’s recruiting effort, which is complemented by detailed training for the Student Recruitment Officers who speak directly with potential students in the schools, said Tiffin.
Individual faculty members also play an important role in conversion activities such as the Circle of Scholars breakfast held during March Break for top scholarship students. Faculties such as Environmental Studies, which attracted 198 registrants, were very active in the conversion process through their targeted and timely mailings and personal contact with applicants, Tiffin said. “As environmental studies is not a specific course taught in secondary schools, the FES contacts were key to differentiating their programs from those of other universities.”
Right: The Ontario Universities Fair runs this weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre
York has also pursued a proactive recruitment strategy using information from a student financial profile. Intended to identify students in need of financial assistance, the profile enabled Student Financial Services to evaluate each applicant so that specific information on financial assistance was included with the offer of admission. “Students were then able to fully evaluate York’s offer of admission and begin to make plans to attend York with a full understanding of the level of support available to them,” explained Tiffin.
York’s program of making offers of admission as early as possible also benefited students and the University, Tiffin said. Studies clearly indicated that students with strong academic performance in Grade 11 also performed well in Grade 12. Consequently, York began making offers to secondary school students as early as February,” said Tiffin, “and the nature of the conversation with an applicant becomes more meaningful and focused once the student has an offer of admission from the university.”
York’s participation at the Ontario Universities Fair, which runs Friday through Sunday, will be enhanced this year with a number of new display features. York’s booth at the fair will have a number of large display screens and recruitment staff will be making hourly presentations on York programs. Even the music played prior to the hourly information sessions will feature bands that have played on campus.