Recently, Temple conducted a survey of students who applied for the 2007-08 academic year but chose not to attend the university. It’s goal? To uncover the key reasons accepted students chose to attend schools other than Temple.
Among non-enrollers’ explanations for matriculating elsewhere, the top three were financial aid, academic reputation and social environment.
In an eight-year analysis, students who cited academic reputation as a key reason for not enrolling increased from 40 percent to 49 percent since 2000. Social environment also became an increasingly common deterrent for non-enrollers, marked by an increase from 38 percent to 43 percent, while financial aid decreased by 4 percent.
Senior Director for Measurement and Institutional Research Jim Degnan has seen firsthand how the data translates to the real trends during his 40-year career at Temple. Degnan explained that Temple’s academic reputation has shifted in part due to a nearly 80 percent cut in state appropriation since 1969, causing tuition to rise and Temple’s academic reputation to change dramatically.
“The reputation of this school [used to be] that of a place that you went to in cases where you really couldn’t go anywhere else,” he said.
In 2000, the percentage of non-enrollers who ranked academic reputation as a leading reason why they sought higher education elsewhere jumped by 9 percent. The results of this survey alone can be misleading, as many of Temple’s schools and programs recently received national recognition for their rigor and achievements.
Still, the importance of the data cannot be understated. Part of the purpose of the non-enrollers survey is to help departments like the Welcome Center polish their packages and devote more attention to areas prospective students are concerned about most. The data also helps Temple administration focus on issues that are most important to perspective and current students.
Degnan said Temple’s achievements can be clouded by the school’s surroundings. Temple’s campus is not for students looking for a suburban campus feel.
Social environment gained another 5 percentage points on reasons for not attending since 2000. On the other hand, the New Student Questionnaire revealed that social environment, one of the deterrents for non-enrollers, was one of the factors that made Temple appealing to current students.
Junior marketing major Maria Verros said Temple’s social environment was the most important reason she came here.
“I actually chose Temple because I liked the environment,” Verros said. “I was accepted to Penn State but chose Temple over [Penn State] because I felt like there was more of a diverse campus here, and I like the idea of being in the city.”
Temple was recently ranked the fifth most diverse student body and the third most diverse faculty in the 2008 Princeton Review.
Among non-enrollers, Temple ranked No. 2 or No. 3 on the list of target schools. On average, 20 percent of students who listed specific program as a key reason for not enrolling already had a different dream school in mind.
In terms of academics, the reputation of specific schools and programs within Temple played a big role in the decision-making process.
Current student Noelle Saltzgueber, who transferred to Temple from Kutztown University in 2008, weighed in on the unflattering results of the 2008 Non-Enroller Survey.
Saltzgueber, a senior graphic design major, said she chose Temple for the very reasons that deterred many non-enrollers.
“I would prefer a degree from Temple over another state school because it has a really good reputation throughout the city,” she said.
In terms of drawing transfer students, Temple ranks high on the list. Approximately 50 percent of all Temple graduates are students who have transferred from other schools.
Additionally, the Tyler School of Art actually yields the highest enrollers-to-acceptances rate at Temple with 48.9 percent of last year’s 568 accepted students enrolling – followed by the Boyer School of Music, the School of Communications and Theater and the College of Science and Technology.
Jesse Goldsmith, of the university’s school of communications and theater, considered other schools but said, “Temple had one of the best programs in the area.” As a Pennsylvania resident, Goldsmith also considered SUNY and Pitt before making the choice to come to Temple.
“Temple seemed to offer the most variety in terms of film classes,” she said, “and I also liked the location.”
This fall, Temple created new undergraduate class times, introduced to maximize schedule flexibility. Temple has largely been a school for the working student since its foundation. By offering a wide selection of night classes and online classes, the university allows students to schedule their courses around work and family schedules.
Degnan said this has been a major attraction for people living in the surrounding neighborhoods. In 2008, 41 percent of new students were from Philadelphia County. Currently, 73 percent of Temple students are state residents.
Though many of Temple’s business programs are nationally ranked as top in the nation, Fox has one of the three lowest yield rates of Temple’s 13 schools.
In-state student and senior accounting major Robert Loumis decided to come to attend Temple because of the relatively low cost for in-state students.
Loumis said he chose Temple because he enjoys city living but was not drawn by the university’s academic reputation.
“It’s a good priced [school],” he said, “and it’s close to home.”
Quentin Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.