The multilateral selection process can appear quite intimidating. TU’s Dean of Admissions Casey Reed explains how the office of admissions encourages applications and decides who to accept.
Beyond a doubt, TU is a small school. Graduating high school students see only 3,000 undergrads at the university and wonder if they’ll even get in.
Dean of Admissions Casey Reed hopes to waylay those fears. Reed oversees domestic undergrad recruitment and admissions and spends her time reassuring parents that a TU education is money well spent.
TU’s recruitment process is much like that of any other school. The admissions department receives a list of student names from ACT, SAT and a number of other sources. They then reach out to gauge interest in receiving more information.
“We increase outreach to them through mail, email and occasionally phone,” Reed said. “From that pool we will have a certain number of students apply.”
Applications tend to correlate with the school from which a student comes. Admissions professionals refer to high schools which consistently send significant numbers of their students to a particular college as feeder schools.
“At the University of Tulsa, where enrollment is small, a feeder school might be a school where we receive 10 or more applications,” Reed said. “In the Tulsa area, it might be a school where we receive 40 or 50 applications. But out of state it could be a school where we receive a handful of applicants every year.”
For TU, feeder schools include Booker T. Washington, Broken Arrow, Union and other immediately surrounding public and private schools as well as several schools in St. Louis, Missouri, and other nearby states.
“We also try to spread the word constantly about TU to other schools who are not currently on that list,” Reed said.
“The University of Tulsa struggles to spread brand awareness,” Reed said, so it’s easier to convince students to apply if they are from a feeder school where they might know students from previous years who currently attend TU.
“It’s not as though we prefer students from a feeder school to students who are not from a feeder school. It’s just easier to cultivate students who are at a feeder school because there is already a bit of brand awareness,” she said.
Fighting TU’s struggle for brand awareness requires Reed and her fellow counselors to jump several hurdles.
The first hurdle — TU is a small school in a moderately sized city in an alleged flyover state.
“There are a lot of students who aren’t even familiar with Tulsa as a city within the state of Oklahoma,” Reed said.
Locally Reed says TU faces a public perception as academically rigorous and incredibly expensive.
“Students might mistakenly believe that they can’t be admitted or that they can’t afford TU,” she said.
“I think what we struggle to convince families of at the beginning is that TU can be affordable, you don’t have to have a very high ACT score to be admitted,” Reed said. The ultimate goal is “to convince families that the value of a TU education is so much more than they can get at a local public school.”
For those who do apply, admissions counselors then evaluate applications, make admissions decisions, coordinate financial aid and help students through the scholarship process in an effort to yield as many new students as possible.
“We are basically looking to see which students we think will be successful at the University of Tulsa,” Reed said. “If we think that they will be academically successful, if they think that they reflect the mission and the values and the commitment of the university, then they generally are admitted.”
Test score and GPA are just two parts of the process.
“We look very closely at a student’s weighted GPA. We look to see how they challenged themselves in high school. We look to see how they compared to other students at their high school,” Reed said. In addition, “We look for trends in their grades, so if they had a few difficult semester but were able to overcome, or if they struggled in certain subjects but they’ve been able to improve their performance over the years, then that can impact a students admission decision.”
In sum, “You don’t have to be a presidential scholar to be admitted to TU,” she said.
If you make the cut at admissions, the likelihood of receiving financial assistance is high.
“We offered over $21 million in scholarships to the freshman class of 2018,” Reed said.
To further sell the university to perspective families, Reed said she emphasizes the quality of the faculty and their dedication to students, which goes beyond small class sizes.
“TU is a collaborative environment and not a competitive one, so you really can get a top-notch private education in an environment that supports you and encourages you as opposed to creating a competitive environment that kind of tries to narrow your focus,” Reed said.
Another struggle of the admissions office is that it currently functions within a constrained budget.
“We can really only spread the word about TU to students who are already in our system. If that word were going to be spread to the Tulsa Community at large or the surrounding states at large, it would probably require and investment of marketing resources outside of what we can do,” Reed said.
Each of these issues was a hurdle crossed for you, dear reader, to become a student at TU.