Applications to Temple are up 27 percent from this time last year, with more than 27,000 prospective students applying to be part of the Class of 2019.
Administrators believe the Common Application, which Temple joined in 2013, is driving the increase. This year’s freshman class, the Class of 2018, is the largest in school history.
By comparison, Villanova typically receives about 15,000 applications, University of Pennsylvania 31,000, Penn State 48,000 and Drexel 40,000.
The most significant increases came from out-of-state and minority applicants. Out-of-state increased by 3 percent, with almost one-in-five international students.
Provost Hai-Lung Dai explained a shift in international applications at an Oct. 12 meeting of the Board of Trustees’ Campus Life & Diversity Committee.
“Past international students used to come [mainly] from post graduate,” Dai said. “Now we are seeing an undergraduate increase. The total increase was 1,800 to 2,800 [students].”
The goal for the balance between in-state and out-of-state students was 70 to 30 percent respectively, which was achieved.
Temple became more racially diverse as well.
“For our students of color we were up … 9.4 percent over the year before,” Senior Vice Provost of Enrollment Management Bill Black said.
“That is actually a 20 percent increase over two years before,” Black added. “We’re very, very pleased to see that and it’s across [most] of the major ethnic categories.”
Black said keeping the average SAT score high remains part of the strategy.
Last year’s freshman class set the record for the highest average SAT score, he said. This year’s class fell one point lower at 1124 on a 1600 point scale.
Black said the administration remains confident the applications will increase for next school year. Unfortunately, a technical issue prevents confirmation.
“Last year when we became a Common Application member, [they] rolled out a whole new process and software … and it was a mess,” Black said. “We did get a work-around but there was about a month … where we were hand-entering applications.”
Black expects to know the number of applications definitively by later this month or in January.
The main reason for the confidence is the new “Temple Option,” which allows applicants to refrain from submitting standardized test scores.
“Once they submit their application with that choice made they can’t change it,” Black said.
The process adds another layer of essays for the applicants.
“[They have to answer] four short-answer response questions,” Black said. “We put a maximum of 150 words for each of these four responses. They answer them one at a time.”
Temple trained eight graduate student readers to evaluate the answers. Once the application is submitted the readers access them through a database.
“They score these responses on … the dimensions that we believe … are good measures of motivational developmental strengths that help us predict [college] success,” Black said.
The four answers only replace the standardized test scores. The rest of the evaluation is the same as students who submit their test scores.
“This is used in conjunction with a thorough review of their practical academic record,” Black said. “[Along with their] GPA, their letters of recommendation, the other essay that is required … as well as activities and leadership that we always use.”
Black said the Temple Option is limited for international students, only extending to those who are graduating from an American high school after spending their last three years there.
Otherwise, those students need to submit their test of English as a Foreign Language score.
The application deadline for incoming freshmen for the 2015 fall semester is March 1.
Bob Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter@bstew74