Welcome to an Ongoing Series on College Admissions
If you’re starting the college admissions process you’ve probably discovered that it’s not always easy to find answers to your college admissions questions. That’s why I created a place where you can hear directly from college admission counselors about applying to college, interviewing for college, college application essay writing, and financial aid.
I developed these questions with help from families who’ve recently been through the college admissions process. Because each school answers the same set of questions, you can compare what they say.
I hope you find this a valuable resource for college admissions information. Who knows? You might even find yourself considering options you hadn’t thought of before.
With the introduction out of the way, let’s find out about the University of Bridgeport.
Originally founded in 1927 as a junior college, University of Bridgeport ranks as the 10th most racially diverse university in the nation. UB is located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. According to the school’s website, the university offers career-oriented programs for motivated students who seek personal growth and professional success. For the fall 2010 semester, UB accepted 3300 students and 572 of those students enrolled.
Facts at a Glance:
- 2,000+ undergraduates
- Rolling admissions
- Tuition: $24,300, Room and Board: $11,400 (2011)
- Average SAT score: 1000 (Math and Verbal)
- Average GPA: 2.8
- 50% live on campus
- 96% receive financial aid
- 80% go on to get their masters
- 98% find jobs before they graduate
Gretchen Camp, Undergraduate Admissions Counselor, answered the following questions during a recent interview:
Q. What percentage of applicants do you admit?
A: The University of Bridgeport accepts approximately 60% of our applicants.
Q: Does UB use its own application?
A: Yes, we have an application that’s specific to the University of Bridgeport. We are not members of the Common Application.
Q: Does applying early decision/action improve a student’s chances for admission?
A: UB operates on rolling admissions, which means that we accept applications all throughout the year. I wouldn’t necessarily say that a student has a greater chance of being admitted if they apply early on in their senior year, but it definitely makes that student stand out because they are demonstrating a strong interest in UB. Applying early also gives a student more time to build a relationship with their admissions counselor, which I believe is an important piece of the overall admissions experience.
Q: How important are extracurricular activities in admissions decisions?
A: A student’s involvement in extracurricular activities is very important. When reviewing an application, it is great to see that a student has been involved in extracurricular activities because it indicates that they have a grasp on time management and are willing to be a part of something greater than themselves.
Q: How important is taking advanced, accelerated, or honors courses?
A: When reviewing a high school transcript, it is encouraging to see these courses because it indicates that a student has chosen to challenge him or herself. It will not hurt a student if they have not chosen to take these classes because in many cases, a college preparatory or general level class is challenging for a student. We also recognize that some high schools do not offer as many advanced, accelerated, or honors courses as other high schools do, and so that is taken into consideration as well.
Q: Which teachers should write a recommendation?
A: If a student chooses to submit a letter (or letters) of recommendation, it is helpful to read letters from a guidance counselor and/or teacher who knows the student well and who can speak to the student’s character. A student should consider requesting a letter of recommendation from a high school instructor who teaches a subject that the student is interested in studying at UB. For example, if a student is applying for Health Sciences or Computer Engineering, a letter of recommendation from a math or science teacher would be beneficial. A student who is interested in our Music program may want to ask their music teacher or band conductor to write a letter of recommendation.
Q: Do you look for what is not said in a recommendation?
A: If a letter of recommendation seems vague or is extremely short, two thoughts generally go through my head. 1) The person writing this letter of recommendation does not know the applicant very well and/or 2) There may be something that the counselor or teacher is omitting. In a few cases, I have had additional questions and have called a counselor to collect more information about an applicant.
Q: Is the quality of an applicant’s high school taken into consideration?
A: The quality of an applicant’s high school is taken into consideration, but it is what a student does within their school environment that really counts. We understand that a student may have different opportunities at a private high school versus a technical high school, and at a public school versus a magnet school.
Q: What is the relative importance of grades versus board scores?
A: A student’s grades and standardized test scores are weighed equally when making an admissions decision. Both are also taken into consideration when a student is being evaluated for a merit scholarship. However, I understand that not all students are strong test takers because I have never been a great test taker myself. In almost all cases though, I believe that a student’s grades are a stronger indication of the type of student that they are and of the potential that they have at the college level.
Q: There’s been controversy about using tests like the SAT and ACT in the admissions process. Where does your school stand?
A: At this point in time, UB is not test-optional. However, the idea of becoming test-optional is being considered and thoroughly researched. We do understand that a test score is not always the best indicator of the type of work that a student is capable of doing, and this is why the possibility of becoming test-optional is currently being discussed.
Q: Should a student discuss or explain a poor grade or marking period(s)? If so, when?
A: If one of my students has had a difficult time in a particular class or during a specific marking period, I encourage them to make a note of it in either their personal statement or on a separate piece of paper in their application packet. Because our admissions decision is focused heavily a students’ academic history, it is very important that a student disclose information regarding a low mark (or marks.) For example, I once noticed that a student of mine had missed quite a few days of school during a school year and had struggled in several classes. I reached out to her and discovered that she had lost a close family member that school year and therefore, her grades were affected negatively. She was ultimately accepted to the university.
Q: Does your school offer interviews with admissions counselors? If not, why?
A: We absolutely encourage our applicants to make an appointment with their admissions counselor – not necessarily for an interview, but to sit down and allow an admissions counselor to get to know them a bit more. It’s really great to put a name with a face! In some cases, an applicant is notified that they must schedule an interview – this generally occurs when we would like to collect more information from an applicant before making an admissions decision.
Q: What qualities do you look for in a well-written essay?
A: While UB doesn’t require that a student submit an essay, we strongly recommend that a student consider doing so. It is the perfect opportunity for a student to display his or herself in the best light possible and to highlight strengths and justify weaknesses (if necessary). It also gives a student the chance to tell us a story, or to describe why they feel that they are a great fit for UB. Ultimately, an essay must be well-written and well-structured. First impressions are everything and I can’t stress enough how important it is to proof-read an essay before submitting it.
Q: Is there a type of essay you would recommend against?
A: I think that it is really important that a student understands who their audience is. I give students a lot of credit for putting themselves out there and for sharing details of their lives that they may not have shared with anyone prior to writing their essay. However, there is a fine line between sharing just the right amount of information and sharing too much information. What a student talks about casually with friends is not always appropriate to share with an admissions counselor. It is important to find a balance.
Q: Can an essay make or break an admission? Please give an example.
A: In some cases, an essay can most certainly make or break an admissions decision. In a specific case, an applicant had a solid GPA and SAT scores, but her qualifications were a bit below what we were looking for in regards to Biology. She wrote a terrific essay about her childhood in Africa, her difficult transition to the United States, and how her experiences in Africa had led her to choose Biology (Pre-Med) as a major. Her essay was very well-written, it told a great story, and there was not a single grammatical error. I recommended her for admission (in part due to her essay) and she was admitted because she not only had acceptable academic qualifications, but she had also demonstrated incredible writing skills. I believe that she would have been referred to a different program had she not submitted that engaging essay.
Q: How has the recession affected the admissions process and the availability of financial aid?
A: At this point in time, the recession has not affected the admissions process or availability of financial aid. UB had a very successful 2010 enrollment year and we enrolled one of the largest classes in recent history! UB was not only able to increase our merit scholarships, but our average financial aid package has also increased from $22,000/year to $25,000 per year. Roughly 96% of our students receive some type of financial aid. Currently, we are waiting on the Federal Government to make some important decisions that may or may not affect financial aid availability to students nationwide.
Q: What part of the admissions process is most misunderstood?
A: I think that the financial aid aspect of the admissions process is misunderstood often. That is why is so important for students and parents to educate themselves about Financial Aid and the options available to them. Many students and parents are confused about the EFC (Expected Family Contribution) – this is calculated after a student submits their FAFSA (www.fafsa.ed.gov) and many times a student’s EFC is 0. When an EFC is 0, many people assume that there will be no out-of-pocket expenses, but this is not the case. Oftentimes, a student (or parent) may need to take out federal or private loans to help cover the total cost of attendance. Again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to do your homework when it comes to Financial Aid.
Q: How can people connect with your school and your students?
A: There are several ways that interested students can connect with UB and its students. Last year, we updated our website, www.bridgeport.edu and it is full of detailed information pertaining to UB. We are on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UBridgeportAdmissions and on Zinch at http://www.zinch.com/college/bridgeport. Our Twitter page is located at http://twitter.com/UB_Admissions and we have some great videos on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/uofbridgeport.
Q: Please add a question (or two) specific to your school.
Question: Is your campus safe?
A: UB is located in Connecticut’s largest city, so maintaining a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff is UB’s top priority. There are security officers available to our students, faculty, and staff 24/7. Our campus is very safe and UB has won awards (i.e. the prestigious Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award) for having outstanding and innovative security measures in place.
Question: What do I do if I am not sure what to major in?
A: UB has over 50 majors that students are able to choose from. If a high school senior is still not sure what they would like to major in, they have the option to indicate on their application that they are still deciding. Many of our undecided students choose a major within their first year of study at UB.
To Contact Bridgeport University:
126 Park Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06604
..Sharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting
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