June’s not too late to get into college

A high school senior who might be looking for a second choice school or an older adult who made the last-minute decision to go back to college can still apply in June for next fall semester at a variety of Ohio colleges and universities. A national list released this week indicated schools have extended their admissions deadlines because they still have vacancies.

Many schools across the country generally use April or early May deadlines for new students to apply for fall semester, but the National Association for College Admissions Counseling is reaching out to last-minute applicants with a number of schools that still have vacancies to fill.

The majority of the 18 listed schools in Ohio are private, liberal arts colleges with small numbers like Marietta College, but admissions officials say extensions to deadlines are becoming increasingly more common, as families are taking more time to make decisions on colleges and institutions are benefiting from increased flexibility.

Marietta College is among the many schools experiencing a decrease in enrollment since 2011, with about a 5.8 percent decline. Nearly 1,500 were enrolled in 2011 compared to just above 1,400 in 2014.

Jason Turley, dean of admissions at Marietta College, said the May 1 date is simply a nationally set deadline for students to commit to a school, but by no means is it set in stone.

“Our philosophy at Marietta College is that we would rather a student take their time to make the right decision than for the students to feel forced to make their college decision,” Turley said.

Marietta College’s admissions policy sets a date of April 15 for most high school seniors and transfer students to send in materials to enroll in fall, but the college always accepts students afterward if space allows.

“Just in the past two days, we have had three more students notify us that they will be attending Marietta in the fall,” Turley said.

Ross Grippi, president-elect of the Ohio Association for College Admissions Counseling, said though the list that is put out annually can be indicative of enrollment troubles, the trend is by no means new to 2014.

“Ohio is very competitive,” Grippi said. “There are somewhere like 50 to 60 liberal arts schools, and a school has to be able to position itself well to compete.”

Grippi said schools like Marietta College that are private liberal arts institutions face the most trouble because of increased competition, and speaks to why that out of the 18 schools from Ohio on the list, 16 are private schools with enrollment of less than 5,000.

Grippi cited population as one of the biggest problems facing higher education institutions in Ohio.

“It can be a lot of things, because every university is different, but graduating seniors are a part of that, because this year’s is one of the smallest classes, and it will continue to flat-line until something like 2028,” he said.

Turley also said Marietta College is looking to emphasize its unique programs-like petroleum engineering-and try to more heavily recruit high-quality students from overseas and out of state, in areas like Texas and Florida where the high school population is not declining.

Grippi said despite a fairly across-the-board drop in enrollment, the trend really is that “June 1 is the new May 1” to many college admissions officials, as many institutions like Marietta College just see an extension as a fairly easy way to bring in more applicants.

“Every year students get cold feet about a school or change their minds, and they realize it’s not the best fit,” he said. “That’s when these new deadlines can help.”

Turley said when talking among other admissions officials in Ohio colleges, there was a general consensus that students have trended toward waiting longer to make a final decision on schools.

“Families are taking longer, but it’s more that they’re making more informed decisions, looking at financial aide and deciding if it’s the right choice,” Grippi said.

All schools have different strategies, but Grippi said each one varies in how it reworks plans to bring in more students.

“Marietta College has a strong alumni chapter and a strong international population, and those are newer forms of recruitment that it can use to help out,” he said.

Turley said Marietta College is also now available for post-secondary students to attend full-time, which will widen enrollment opportunities even more.

“With this new change, we have seen an increase in interest from students who want to take classes,” he said.

Colleges on the list, which may change slightly because schools can request to add themselves to it after it is initially published, include schools like Wittenberg University, Ashland University and Capital University scattered throughout Ohio.

Public schools included on the list like the University of Toledo have rolling admissions policies.

Ohio University, though not included on the list, also has a rolling admissions policy and made the choice this year to extend deadlines.

The deadline to submit an application this year was moved from Feb. 1 to March 15, and the priority deadline to confirm intent to enroll was moved from May 1 to June 1.

“The dates were just extended to give students more time to apply and make a decision,” said Katie Quaranta, communications specialist for OU.