October 8, 2015

Cornell Relaunches First-Year Spring Admissions Program

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Approximately 125 first-year students will be joining the Cornell community in January 2016 through the First-Year Spring Admissions program, according to Jason Locke, associate vice provost for enrollment.

This will be the first time the program will run since 2003, when the University previously had a similar program called “J Frosh,” according to Locke.

The primary reason for the revival of the FYSA-type program, according to Locke, is the drastic increase in first-year applicants and the desire to accommodate the influx of qualified candidates.

“Applications to Cornell have more than doubled since the former J Frosh program was discontinued,” Locke said. “For this year’s class, Cornell reviewed close to 42,000 applications for a class of 3,182 new first-year students. In order to allow more students to benefit from a Cornell education, the University approved the FYSA program.”

Locke added that the evolution of higher education has also forced the University to change the way it looks at first-year applicants.

“Students are approaching a college education in a way that is no longer bound by time or place,” Locke said. “More students desire the opportunity to take time in the transition from high school to work, travel or volunteer.”

Only four of Cornell’s colleges have accepted FYSA students for this coming January.

Thirty-one FYSA students will be entering the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, 62 into Arts and Sciences, 20 into Human Ecology and 12 into the School of Hotel Administration, according to Locke.

“For some of our undergraduate colleges and schools, it is not possible to begin in the Spring semester due to curricular requirements and course sequencing,” Locke said.

While Locke said the North Campus Residential Initiative, which was put into to place to bring a sense of unity among freshmen, created a desire to have first-year students enroll in the fall, considerations for reinstating the FYSA program began through the Enrollment Assessment Task Force.

“In March 2014, the Enrollment Assessment Task Force recommended to Provost [Kent] Fuchs that the topic of January admission for freshmen deserved analysis, for a variety of strategic, academic and budgetary reasons,” Locke said.

While many FYSA students are excited to join the Cornell community, some worry about the amount of work that must be done in order to catch up to students who began in the fall.

Jenna Steele ’19, a FYSA hotel student, said she was accepted off the waitlist and is spending the fall semester studying at a local university to try and limit the impact of starting late.

“Because the hotel school’s courses are so specific, I had to work very hard to find a place that would allow me to take the specific courses I need,” Steele said.

In addition to catching up on school work, she also said she felt the emotional toll of starting late.

“It was very hard watching all of my friends go off to school, being the only one left behind,” Steele said. “I get to hear about everyone else’s experiences, see their lives on social media and be jealous of them all from my bedroom.”

However, she added that she did not feel that temporarily attending a different university and having catch-up work should keep her from attending her university of choice.

“I chose FYSA because I knew the hotel school, and Cornell, was the perfect place for me,” Steele said. “Cornell has always been my dream school and I knew I would do whatever it took to attend.”

Other students on the “Cornell University FYSA” Facebook group also expressed concerns about starting a semester late. In particular, numerous students were vocal about whether they would be allowed to rush sororities or fraternities in the spring.

Despite student concerns, however, Locke said the University will not have a problem easing in the new students, citing the University’s years of experience with January transfer students.

“Many students new to a college campus, FYSA, first-year fall freshman and transfer students, are anxious about the transition to campus. That’s a normal part of moving into a new environment,” Locke said. “Cornell’s New Students program and representatives from our undergraduate colleges and schools have been planning an orientation program and focused advising programs for FYSA students.”