Online application to Columbia University: $65. Online application to New York University: $65. Online application to St. John’s University: free. Getting into your top safety school: priceless.
All kidding aside, one of the top reasons most students I know came to St. John’s is it simply gave them the best deal; I know that’s what first attracted me. In fact, most people I know on campus often tell me that they weren’t even going to apply to St. John’s to begin with until they saw how easy and cheap the application process was. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when St. John’s announced that it had received over 35,000 applications this year from prospective undergraduate students. The number of applicants rose by 27 percent from last year and marked the largest applicant pool in the history of the University.
Administrators were quick to mention that the University’s dorms and academic prestige were a major reason for the increase.
But let’s face it: the free online application that St. John’s provides must be one of the most significant reasons that number has risen so substantially.
I’ll be the first to admit that the University is a terrific safety school, and its new dorms make it very attractive to out-of-state students. But we haven’t exactly been known for our prestigious academics as of late. Although we received a larger increase in applicants than any other city school, it’d be hard to argue that this means prospective students find a St. John’s diploma any more attractive than one from Fordham or NYU.
But the University can certainly use the increased interest in St. John’s to its advantage. Most notably, the University can finally think about raising its admission standards.
The last two years, St. John’s accepted a little over 15,000 applicants. 3,163 enrolled last year, and 3,266 the year before.
I noticed that many students the Torch interviewed for this story expressed a concern that the increase could lead to more students enrolling than usual, adding to the University’s spacing problems. Last year, for example, some unlucky freshmen were forced to quadruple-up in junior triple rooms to accommodate the surge in enrolled students. And classroom space is rapidly running out, with many classes forced to meet in cramped rooms wherever space can be found.
Raising admission standards and being more selective is the best thing St. John’s could do right now, for a number of reasons. Most importantly, accepting fewer, but more deserving students, would increase the overall quality of the student body. That’s the first and most important step St. John’s could take in improving its academic prestige. Sure, fewer students might end up enrolling for a few years, but it would eventually prove useful. And, given the aforementioned spacing problems that St. John’s has been encountering, it might even be in the University’s best interest to see fewer students enroll.Although I might not have applied to St. John’s because of its outstanding academics, I’ve encountered a number of students and professors that have made my educational experience here a great one. The tools are here for achieving a great education; now, the University just needs to start accepting more deserving students to make classes that much more interesting and make it that much more competitive to graduate from St. John’s.
In a few years, I hope I can walk around campus and hear students talking about how much they wanted to attend St. John’s because of its amazing business program or terrific English department. There’s no reason the University has to settle as just a good New York safety school.
With a little work, we could become known as the school with a free online application, but a priceless education.