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Admission to N.Y.U.: More Than Just Scores

By KAREN W. ARENSON


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The glittering silver shoe rimmed in purple feather boa arrived at 22 Washington Square North — the town house that serves as New York University’s admissions war room — with a note from Jessica. Now that she had one shoe in the door, the note said, she hoped to get the other one in, too.

Richard Avitabile, director of admissions at N.Y.U. (whose school color is violet) pronounced the shoe ”cute, but not too cute.”

Mr. Avitabile has seen many gimmicks, from balloons to brownies with the applicant’s name on them. Some work. Many do not. But this one provided a bit of sparkle last week during the marathon process that constitutes admissions. ”No one gets in just because she sends us a fancy shoe,” he said. But if the rest of Jessica’s application reflected the same creativity, he noted, it would be a strong plus.

Reading applications is an annual winter ritual on campuses across the country, one that has ballooned in scope at selective colleges as the number of applicants has climbed. But few colleges face anything like the deluge at N.Y.U.

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Aided by New York’s soaring popularity as a college town and by the university’s climb in college ratings, N.Y.U. received 30,750 freshmen applications this year — more than any other private university. That is 10,000 more than it received four years ago and triple the number in 1990. And that does not even count the 4,700 transfer applications. (Even among the public universities, only a few get more applications; the University of California at Los Angeles is the leader, with 37,460 this year.)

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”We have a discount plan with the vision center,” Mr. Avitabile joked, alluding to the tired eyes of admissions officers; he and about 20 others review each folder at least three times.

Digesting all that paper — and choosing 8,800 worthy candidates from among almost 31,000 hopefuls — is a frantic undertaking that demands intense devotion from Mr. Avitabile and his staff. Having steered N.Y.U. through its admissions cycle eight times before, Mr. Avitabile (pronounced AV-it-a-bull), 52, is intimately familiar with the demands.

For a few hours last week, he ignored the more than 200 applications awaiting his scrutiny in his tidy second-floor office overlooking Washington Square Park and chatted about the admissions process.

Some admissions officials read the essays first. Others glance at the transcripts. Mr. Avitabile usually begins by sizing up a student’s courses to see how challenging they were and then turns to the teacher references. ”The one caveat is that a reader is not allowed to look at just the statistics and put the application aside without reading it,” he said.

N.Y.U. admissions officials divide folders into three rough categories: clearly acceptable (about 15 to 20 percent of the pool), clearly not acceptable (about 10 percent) and the large gray middle that absorbs most of their time.

In the middle group are students who have taken tough courses, gotten good grades, scored well on standardized tests and participated in extracurricular activities. But when held up against other applicants, many do not make it.

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”We get questions all the time about why this student was admitted and this one wasn’t,” Mr. Avitabile said. ”I say, ‘He’s great, but some others were just a little bit better, and we had to make some tough choices.’ ”

In a white button-down shirt, dark tie and wing-tip shoes, Mr. Avitabile appears ready for business, but his sensibility is more collegiate than corporate. Even with the explosion in applications, he rejects the notion that there may be a more efficient approach to handling them.

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”We must remember that every one of those files represents an individual life,” said Mr. Avitabile, who has been through the college admissions process twice himself as a father.

With the luxury of an expanded pool of applicants, N.Y.U. has become increasingly selective. Today the average score on the College Boards for those accepted is about 1,350 (out of 1,600), Mr. Avitabile said, and athletes and children of alumni get close scrutiny but little or no preference. ”Athletics is one characteristic we consider,” he added, ”just like a student who is a dancer or a scientist.”

What makes an applicant stand out? Mr. Avitabile says he wants students who do well in the most challenging courses and whose activities suggest they will be ”active participants here.”

Some favorite examples: There is the young photographer who traveled around the world with her parents and lived in an orphanage for six months, and whose photographs centered on needy children. And there is the young man who ran a political campaign for a state senator and also worked as a computer consultant to local shopkeepers. ”They have not necessarily scaled mountains,” Mr. Avitabile said, ”but most have done interesting things in their communities.”

Complicating the process is that N.Y.U. has seven highly differentiated schools that take undergraduates, including the College of Arts and Science, the Tisch School of the Arts and the Leonard N. Stern School of Business. Although their priorities differ, Mr. Avitabile’s office is the gatekeeper for all, and applicants to all of the schools — even those with powerful auditions or art portfolios — must also be strong academically.

Mr. Avitabile plans to admit 8,800 students this year — about 28 or 29 percent of applicants — to fill a freshman class of 3,500. Nearly a third of the seats are already allocated; in December, N.Y.U. accepted 1,100 of the 2,700 early decision applicants.

Mr. Avitabile, who says he took a back seat when his own two children applied to college, said he has ”great faith” in the ability of young people to find the right college. ”I have based my professional career on the rational behavior of 17-year-olds,” he said.

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New York University, founded in 1831, is a private, comprehensive institution. Offering more than 2,500 courses, the undergraduate program aims to cultivate inquiry, creativity, and independent ambition in all students, and to challenge them intellectually, professionally, and personally. The main campus, located in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, has no walls or gates to maintain a connection to the surrounding city. Fourteen smaller schools within the university maintain their own traditions, programs, and faculty. NYU also has branch campuses in 10 countries on four continents, including Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Web Site www.nyu.edu/
Institution TypePrivate
CoeducationalYes
Undergraduate Students26,417
   Women15,112 (57.2%)
   Men11,305 (42.8%)
Graduate Students24,706

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ADMISSION

Entrance DifficultyVery difficult
Overall Admission Rate28% of 64,007 applicants were admitted
Early Action OfferedNo
Early Decision OfferedYes
Regular Admission DeadlineJanuary 1
Selection of Students
FactorVery ImportantImportantConsideredNot Considered
Academic GPAX
Standardized TestsX
EssayX
Extracurricular ActivitiesX
More Factors…
Qualifications of Enrolled Freshmen
Average GPA3.66
SAT Math697 average
640-760 range of middle 50%
SAT Critical Reading685 average
650-730 range of middle 50%
SAT WritingNot reported
ACT Composite31 average
29-33 range of middle 50%
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Cost of AttendanceNot available
Tuition and Fees
$50,464
Room and Board
Not reported
Average Percent of Need Met67%
Average Freshman Award$37,805
Average Indebtedness of
2016 Graduates
$31,210
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General Education/
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Full-Time Faculty
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2,965
Regular Class Size2-9 students: 16% of classes
10-19 students: 45% of classes
20-29 students: 20% of classes
30-39 students: 8% of classes
40-49 students: 3% of classes
50-99 students: 7% of classes
Over 100 students: 1% of classes
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CAMPUS LIFE

New York Population8,244,910
Nearest Metropolitan AreaNew York City
Freshman Housing GuaranteeFreshmen are guaranteed housing
Students in College Housing 43% of all students
Athletic ConferencesNCAA Division III
MascotBobcat
Sororities7% of women participate
Fraternities 5% of men participate
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Ethnicity of Students from U.S.0.2% American Indian/Alaskan Native
24.3% Asian
7.5% Black/African-American
16.8% Hispanic/Latino
5.6% Multi-race (not Hispanic/Latino)
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7.5% Unknown
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JANUARY 1, 2015
First date to submit FAFSA for 2015-16 school year
JANUARY 9
Registration deadline for February 7 ACT (not in NY)
JANUARY 24
SAT & Subject Tests test date
FEBRUARY 7
ACT test date (not in NY)
FEBRUARY 13
Registration deadline for March 14 SAT
MARCH 13
Registration deadline for April 18 ACT
MARCH 14
SAT test date
APRIL 6
Registration deadline for May 2 SAT & Subject Tests
APRIL 18
ACT test date
MAY 2
SAT & Subject Tests test date
MAY 4-8
AP Exams
MAY 8

Registration deadline for June 6 SAT & Subject Tests

Registration deadline for June 13 ACT

MAY 11-15
AP Exams
JUNE 6
SAT & Subject Tests test date
JUNE 13
ACT test date
JUNE 30
Last date to submit FAFSA for federal aid for 2014-15 school year
AUGUST 7
Registration deadline for September 12 ACT
SEPTEMBER 3
Registration deadline for October 3 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
SEPTEMBER 12
ACT test date
SEPTEMBER 15
Last date to submit FAFSA corrections for federal aid for 2014-15 school year
SEPTEMBER 18
Registration deadline for October 24 ACT
OCTOBER 3
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
OCTOBER 9
Registration deadline for November 7 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
OCTOBER 14
PSAT test date
(redesigned PSAT)
OCTOBER 24
ACT test date
OCTOBER 28
PSAT test date
NOVEMBER 5
Registration deadline for December 5 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
NOVEMBER 6
Registration deadline for December 12 ACT
NOVEMBER 7
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
DECEMBER 5
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
DECEMBER 12
ACT test date
DECEMBER 28
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JANUARY 1, 2016
First date to submit FAFSA for 2016-17 school year
JANUARY 8
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JANUARY 23
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
FEBRUARY 5, 2016
Registration deadline for March 5 SAT
FEBRUARY 6
ACT test date (not in NY)
MARCH 4, 2016
Registration deadline for April 9 ACT
MARCH 5
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(first test date for redesigned SAT)
APRIL 8, 2016
Registration deadline for May 7 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
APRIL 9
ACT test date
MAY 2-6, 2016
AP Exams
MAY 5
Registration deadline for June 4 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
MAY 6
Registration deadline for June 11 ACT
MAY 7
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
MAY 9-13
AP Exams
JUNE 4, 2016
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
JUNE 11
ACT test date
JUNE 30
Last date to submit FAFSA for federal aid for 2015-16 school year
AUGUST 7, 2016
Registration deadline for September 10 ACT
SEPTEMBER 1, 2016
Registration deadline for October 1 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
SEPTEMBER 10
ACT test date
SEPTEMBER 16
Registration deadline for October 22 ACT
SEPTEMBER 17
Last date to submit FAFSA corrections for federal aid for 2015-16 school year
OCTOBER 1, 2016

First date to submit FAFSA for 2017-18 school year
OCTOBER 1
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
OCTOBER 7
Registration deadline for November 5 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
OCTOBER 15
PSAT/NMSQT test date
(check with your school)
OCTOBER 19
PSAT/NMSQT test date
(check with your school)
OCTOBER 22
ACT test date
NOVEMBER 2, 2016
PSAT/NMSQT test date
(check with your school)
NOVEMBER 3
Registration deadline for December 3 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
NOVEMBER 4
Registration deadline for December 10 ACT
NOVEMBER 5
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
DECEMBER 3, 2016
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
DECEMBER 10
ACT test date
DECEMBER 21
Registration deadline for January 21 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
JANUARY 13, 2017
Registration deadline for February 11 ACT
JANUARY 21
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
FEBRUARY 10, 2017
Registration deadline for March 11 SAT
FEBRUARY 11
ACT test date (not in NY)
MARCH 3, 2017
Registration deadline for April 8 ACT
MARCH 11
SAT test date
APRIL 7, 2017
Registration deadline for May 6 SAT
APRIL 8
ACT test date
MAY 1-5, 2017
AP Exams
MAY 5
Registration deadline for June 10 ACT
MAY 6
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
MAY 8-12
AP Exams
MAY 9
Registration deadline for June 3 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
JUNE 3, 2017
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
JUNE 10
ACT test date
JUNE 30
Last date to submit FAFSA for federal aid for 2016-17 school year
JULY 28, 2017
Registration deadline for August 26 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
AUGUST 4, 2017
Registration deadline for September 9 ACT
AUGUST 26
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
SEPTEMBER 8, 2017
Registration deadline for October 7 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
SEPTEMBER 9
Last date to submit FAFSA corrections for federal aid for 2016-17 school year
SEPTEMBER 9
ACT test date
SEPTEMBER 22
Registration deadline for October 28 ACT
OCTOBER 1, 2017
First date to submit FAFSA for 2018-19 school year
OCTOBER 5
Registration deadline for November 4 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
OCTOBER 7
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OCTOBER 11
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OCTOBER 14
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OCTOBER 28
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NOVEMBER 2, 2017
Registration deadline for December 2 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
NOVEMBER 3
Registration deadline for December 9 ACT
NOVEMBER 4
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
DECEMBER 2, 2017
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
DECEMBER 9
ACT test date
JANUARY 12, 2018
Registration deadline for February 10 ACT
FEBRUARY 9, 2018
Registration deadline for March 10 SAT
FEBRUARY 10
ACT test date (not in NY)
MARCH 9, 2018
Registration deadline for April 14 ACT
MARCH 10
SAT test date
APRIL 6, 2018
Registration deadline for May 5 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
APRIL 14
ACT test date
MAY 3, 2018
Registration deadline for June 2 SAT & SAT Subject Tests
MAY 4
Registration deadline for June 9 ACT
MAY 5
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
MAY 7-11
AP Exams
MAY 14-18
AP Exams
JUNE 2, 2018
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
JUNE 9
ACT test date
JUNE 15
Registration deadline for July 14 ACT
JUNE 30
Last date to submit FAFSA for federal aid for 2017-18 school year
JULY 14, 2018
ACT test date (not in NY)
AUGUST 25, 2018
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
SEPTEMBER 8, 2018
ACT test date
SEPTEMBER 15
Last date to submit FAFSA corrections for federal aid for 2017-18 school year
OCTOBER 1, 2018
First date to submit FAFSA for 2019-20 school year
OCTOBER 6
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
OCTOBER 27
ACT test date
NOVEMBER 3, 2018
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
DECEMBER 1, 2018
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
DECEMBER 8
ACT test date
FEBRUARY 9, 2019
ACT test date (not in NY)
MARCH 9, 2019
SAT test date
APRIL 13, 2019
ACT test date
MAY 4, 2019
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
JUNE 1, 2019
SAT & SAT Subject Tests test date
JUNE 8
ACT test date
JUNE 30
Last date to submit FAFSA for federal aid for 2018-19 school year
JULY 13, 2019
ACT test date (not in NY)

cd$

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COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$) are points you earn by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities.
Sign up to earn 2000 CD$!
Once you earn 2500 CD$
you can redeem them for U.S. Dollars.
For more information, click Learn More .


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COLLEGEdata Dollars are
points you earn by
completing certain
COLLEGEdata activities

Ways to earn
COLLEGEdata Dollars:

  • Complete your Admissions Profile.
  • Add colleges to your College Choices.
  • Update your Admissions Statuses.
  • Use the College Match tool.

What are COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$)?

COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$) are points you earn by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. The maximum number of CD$ you can redeem is 5000. Once you have earned at least 2500 CD$, you can redeem them for $25, which will be provided to you on a Loyalty Card, and once you earn another 2500 CD$, you can redeem those CD$ for a second $25, which will also be provided to you on a Loyalty Card.

Earn points and redeem them for
U.S. Dollars

Complete certain COLLEGEdata activities (for example, signing up, starting your Admissions Profile, searching for colleges, calculating your chances for admission, searching for scholarships, updating your Profile with your admission decisions). Each activity is worth a specific amount of points (CD$). You can redeem the points you earn for U.S. Dollars that will be issued to you in the form of a 1st Financial Bank USA Loyalty Mastercard®.

How do I earn COLLEGEdata Dollars?

You can earn CD$ by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. As soon as you sign up and activate your COLLEGEdata account, explore COLLEGEdata and begin completing COLLEGEdata activities to earn points.

Here is a full list of COLLEGEdata activities for which you may earn CD$ and the number of CD$ you can earn by completing each activity.*

Activity
CD$

* CD$ you earn will expire if your CD$ Program account is inactive. An account will be inactive if no CD$ are earned and no CD$ are redeemed in any 12 consecutive calendar month period.

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Congratulations!
+ CD$
You just earned COLLEGEdata Dollars!
Check your CD$ Dashboard at the bottom of the page to view your CD$ balance, find other activities that you can complete to earn CD$, and redeem the CD$ you have earned for U.S. Dollars.

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