EqualApp, a virtual counseling service that provides tools for prospective college students, ranked Ithaca College as one of the 10 best U.S. colleges with acceptance rates of more than 70 percent.
But EqualApp’s ranking comes after a year of over-enrollment problems that put the college at 25 percent over its target enrollment.
Last year’s incoming freshman class marked the first time in 10 years that the college had an admission rate that exceeded 70 percent, making it an eligible institution for EqualApp’s list only once.
The list ranks colleges based on geography, academics, social data and popularity with college review organizations like the Princeton Review.
The college accepted about 59 percent of its applicants in 2008. In 2009, the college accepted about 75 percent. This year, however, Eric Maguire, vice president of enrollment management, said the college’s acceptance rate for the class of 2014 was at about 69 percent.
“Our acceptance rate historically has been somewhere in the 60-something percent [range],” Maguire said. “I’m a little surprised EqualApp used one year of data to generate that list as opposed to looking at a running five-year average.”
Stephen Friedfeld, EqualApp COO and a Cornell University graduate, said the college made the list based on factors including the prominence of its liberal arts programs and efforts to promote sustainability on campus.
“EqualApp doesn’t recommend that students only look at colleges that have a 15 percent or lower admit rate and think, ‘Oh, these are the only good colleges,’” he said. “There’s a great college out there for everyone.”
Since its release, the list has been picked up by a variety of news sources, including Yahoo! News. The attention brought about by the list could serve the college in many different ways, Maguire said, but still draws notice to the college’s former over-enrollment.
Tom Moore, spokesman for the University of Iowa, another college on the list, said his university has been aiming to increase enrollment over the past few years, so getting on the list was not much of a surprise to him.
“Our original plan was to add roughly 100 students to the student body per year over the next five years,” he said. “But our efforts succeeded beyond our wildest expectations and almost 500 [extra] students showed up this year. We think that speaks very well the to reputation of the university.”
Maguire said the ranking, however, has its benefits and setbacks for the college’s reputation.
“It’s sort of a double-edged sword in terms of the distinction in that it’s nice to be recognized for the quality of the institution,” he said. “At the same time, being known for a higher acceptance rate is not the most impressive thing in the entire world.”