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Stony Brook University achieves record-high enrollment numbers

Students walking on Stony Brook campus near East Side Dining. Stony Brook achieved record-breaking application and enrollment rates for the 2023-24 academic year. IRENE YIMMONGKOL/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook University is establishing itself as a primary destination for new applicants after achieving record-breaking application rates and enrollment numbers for the 2023-24 school year.

Campus life has certainly become more lively as the university welcomed its largest freshman class ever in the Fall 2023 semester. Alongside a rise in the number of applicants, Stony Brook University has made strides in drawing more interest from students locally, nationally and internationally.

The University saw a significant 24.2% increase in applications, with 55,633 applicants for the 2023-2024 academic year. Last year, the university received 44,781 applications.

Freshman application rates grew by 23.9%, with 50,435 applicants for the academic year. In contrast, there were 40,713 freshman applicants in the 2022-23 academic year.

Mark Cortez, the executive director of admissions at Stony Brook University, said that the University is making use of its resources to ensure that student life can continue to thrive while applications for admissions increase.

“Admissions is working closely with campus partners in academic and student life to ensure that all growth is properly supported on campus,” Cortez wrote in an email to The Statesman. “This includes looking closely at class availability, the number of advisors, and student support. The university’s goal is that we set up every student for success.”

Out-of-state and international student applications also grew for the 2023-24 school year.

Out-of-state student applications grew by 7.1%, as the institution saw 9,451 out-of-state applicants for the 2023-2024 academic year. In contrast, the university had 8,826 out-of-state applicants in the year prior.

The states with the most out-of-state applicants to the University were New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, and Pennsylvania.

Likewise, Stony Brook University saw its total international student applications increase by 40.5%, with 4,636 international applicants for the 2023-2024 academic year. The countries with the most applicants were China, India, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Application rates for non-STEM majors also grew, as the university saw an 18.4% increase, with 1,521 non-STEM major applicants for the 2023-2024 academic year. During the 2022-2023 academic year, the university saw 236 fewer non-STEM major applicants than the previous year.

Investments from philanthropic organizations last year enabled the University to draw more attention from students. Two possible key contributors to this increase in applicants are the University being selected as the anchor institution to develop The New York Climate Exchange as well as a $500 million gift from the Simons Foundation.

On April 24, Stony Brook University was also chosen to establish a new campus on Governors Island in New York City to lead a climate change-centered initiative.

Less than two months later, the university received a $500 million gift from the Simons Foundation in June 2023. The gift can potentially reach a total of $1 billion due to the New York State’s endowment matching program.

Dawn Medley, the vice provost for enrollment management and retention at Stony Brook University, says that the increase in student enrollment is partially due to the growth and investments in the institution.

“I believe this increase in interest as measured by applications and enrolled students is directly tied to the efforts of our entire division and campus,” Medley said in a press release. “As a flagship, we have much to tell with the New York Climate Exchange and the $500 million dollar gift, but helping students find their place at Stony Brook is what our team does best.”

Kayla Titus, a senior majoring in psychology and business management, has noticed a difference in class and in the dining halls.

“I have noticed an increase of students, specifically when I am going to get food [at the dining halls] the lines are significantly longer,” Titus said. “When I am going to class there are more people walking around to and from class.”

Not only has Titus seen a difference in the number of students, but she has seen a growth in student life diversity as well.

“I would say that there are a little bit more diverse events going on regarding gender, race, ethnicity, and so forth,” Titus said.

Over the past year, the university has increased funding to diversify student life on campus. Many of these funds have come directly from the State University of New York administration and New York State.

Contributing to the growth of student life at the university, new programs were introduced by partnerships between the undergraduate admission office and its academic partners, such as the School of Communication and Journalism, the College of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Cortez also gave examples of some of the programs they had created, which included events such as: From the Classroom to the Boardroom, How SBU Can Prepare You for a Career in Policy, Politics, and Law, Hip Hop’s Transformation and The Relationship Between Majors and Careers.

Cortez says that these programs allow students to prepare themselves not only for classes but for their professional careers as well.

“These [partnerships] offered students a fresh look at academic programs at Stony Brook, allowing them to really understand both how we help to prepare students as well as their opportunities,” Cortez wrote. “We also expanded our communication to students, ensuring we could provide timely engagement via text and email.”

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