Temple Times Online Edition
    MARCH 16, 2006
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For Temple Admissions, urban is hot
More than 60 percent of new Temple students say that the University’s “location in a large city” was a “very important positive factor” influencing their decision to attend Temple, an increase of 20 percentage points since 1997. Traditionally a commuter school, Temple is attracting more students who grew up in small towns, rural areas and suburbs.

Jaclyn Eck wasn’t the kind of high school student you would expect to choose a big-city school like Temple.

She grew up in the small town of New Oxford in Pennsylvania’s rural Adams County, far from Temple’s traditional recruiting strongholds. Her parents aren’t city folks either; both went to small, rural colleges. Many of her friends, relatives and even some of her teachers urged her not to go to college in Philadelphia.

So why is Jaclyn now a happy freshman advertising major in Temple’s School of Communications and Theater? With a 3.6 grade-point average in high school and an SAT score of 1320, she had plenty of options.

“I wanted to go to school in a big city,” Jaclyn said. “I was only considering colleges in Philadelphia.”

She’s not alone. More and more students are choosing Temple because of its location.

According to a survey conducted last summer, more than 60 percent of new Temple students said that the University’s “location in a large city” was a “very important positive factor” influencing their decision to attend Temple, an increase of 12 percentage points since the 2000 survey and 20 percentage points since 1997.

The attitude shift has been profound and swift. Not that long ago, many students chose Temple in spite of its location. In 1997, one in five new students said that Temple’s urban location was “not a positive factor” in their decision to attend Temple. Now only one in 12 says that Temple’s big-city environment wasn’t a positive factor.

The surge of enthusiasm about Temple’s urban setting is coming at an unusual time in the University’s history. Traditionally a commuter school, Temple is attracting more students who grew up in small towns, rural areas and suburbs. It’s understandable that kids who grew up in the shadow of Philadelphia appreciate the advantages of big-city life, but what’s the appeal to kids who grew up in non-urban areas?

For many prospective students, Philadelphia offered a change from the slow pace of home.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of the high school students who visit Temple from places like the Poconos are just ecstatic to be here,” said Chris Stover, a freshman whose duties as an Owl Ambassador include leading tours from Temple’s new Welcome Center. “They want to be in a city because of the hustle and bustle.”

Kyle Uhlman, a freshman history major from Butler, a steel town in western Pennsylvania, thinks of Philadelphia as an extension of Temple’s campus. “At a place like Penn State, the campus is your social life,” said Uhlman, who was accepted at 11 other colleges. “But at Temple, your social life is the whole city: pro sports teams, museums, concerts, restaurants, shopping — and when you get older, clubs and bars.”

For Karen Shuey, a sophomore from Lebanon, Pa., Temple’s location offered the promise of professional opportunities.

“I’ve always wanted to be in an urban setting,” she said. “I wanted to major in journalism, and Philadelphia is a major market. Many of the teachers here have jobs in the city; they might help me make good career connections.”

Like many Temple students, Shuey also was attracted by the city’s ethnic diversity.

“I wanted to go outside my comfort zone,” Shuey said. “For me, [college is] all about learning how to interact with people who are unlike myself.”

Along with a select group of other city schools such as New York University, Temple’s popularity has surged in recent years. Undergraduate applications to Temple are up nearly 40 percent since 2000, reaching an all-time high of 17,360 last fall.

Todd Hoffman, president of Collegia, a consulting firm that has helped promote regional coalitions of colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Ohio, says it’s no surprise that location helps make Temple hot.

“You can make a strong argument that Philadelphia is the best city in America for college students,” Hoffman said. “I think people have picked up on that.”

Hoffman attributes Philadelphia’s rising popularity among applicants to a wide range of cultural phenomena.

“Millions of eyeballs saw ‘The Real World’ when it came to Philadelphia. That marked the city as a hip, fun place,” he said. “National Geographic Traveler called Philadelphia America’s ‘next great city.’ People like M. Night Shyamalan, who is dedicated to the city and shoots his movies here, also make a difference, as do brands associated with Philadelphia such as AND1 and Urban Outfitters.”

Although Philadelphia may score points with young people, convincing parents can prove to be a harder sell. But as familiarity with Temple’s improving reputation and campus grows, even attitudes among parents are beginning to soften.

Lorraine W. Eck admits she wasn’t thrilled when her daughter Jaclyn became one of seven New Oxford High School graduates to enroll at Temple as freshmen last fall — by far the largest Temple contingent in the school’s history.

“I have to be honest, we were a little bit nervous,” said Eck, who is the guidance department chair at New Oxford High. “But now I feel more comfortable, having been on campus. Now I tell my students who are up in the air about their college decision: Have you considered Temple?

- By Hillel J. Hoffmann

What it takes to gain admission to Temple
Editor’s note: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently asked Mary Beth Kurilko, associate director of undergraduate admissions, to submit an essay on the admission process. This essay is reprinted with the permission of the author. [more]