August 25, 2012
Freshmen move in
About 1,200 first-year students come to campus
Miles Ferris hugged his parents Friday morning, accepted a kiss from his mother and then watched his parents and brother walk away down Neubig Road, leaving him at home in SUNY Cortland’s Bishop Hall.
The freshman from Watertown said he was ready for his criminology major, with a goal of being a state trooper. He was settling into his triple room, having talked with one roommate and not with the other during the summer.
Ferris was asked if a private college was one of his choices as he considered colleges in the past year. He immediately said no.
“It’s way too much money,” he said. “There’s no need to spend $50,000 a year when I can get what I need here.”
Friday was the first day for new students to move into campus residence halls at SUNY Cortland. Off-campus students began arriving in the past week and were moving into houses Friday on a sunny and hot day. This year’s freshman class includes about 1,200 students.
Piles of boxes, plastic cartons, detergent bottles, lamps and shelves sat in clumps on the sidewalks around residence halls, guarded by parents or siblings. Students and alumni helped carry items to rooms; fall sports teams were assigned to each residence hall.
Parents and freshmen offered a variety of reasons for choosing SUNY Cortland. Some said they considered both private and public colleges, echoing a theme offered Thursday by College President Erik Bitterbaum in his opening talk to faculty and staff.
Bitterbaum said competition for students will increase in the years ahead, as high school enrollments in New York state decline and private colleges offer tuition discounts to counter lower tuitions at public colleges.
Ferris’ brother Max is a junior at SUNY Potsdam. He planned to move into his house today.
Miles Ferris said SUNY Cortland has become popular as it has become more selective, accepting about 41 percent of its applicants. The college has reported higher application rates and higher academic performance among its last few freshman classes. But Bitterbaum said there were 700 fewer applicants for the 2012-13 school year — still 11,600.
Enrollment is projected at about 7,300, including graduate students. Classes start Monday.
New students also picked up their ID cards and books. The college planned meetings Friday and Saturday with students about campus life, but orientation itself was during the summer.
Across campus, at Cheney Hall, freshman Adam Nance of New Rochelle moved into his triple room. Like Ferris, he has a “forced triple,” putting three students in a room designed for two.
Nance said he looked at Ithaca College, where his sister Christine is a junior and where his mother, Hope, is a graduate. His father, Peter, graduated from Cornell University.
“I just liked the atmosphere here,” said Adam, who is not sure of his major.
“He wanted to be his own person, since his sister is at Ithaca,” his mother said. “He looked at SUNY New Paltz, Marist College and Muhlenberg College, so he had a mix of options.”
Next door, at DeGroat Hall, transfer Nicole Madia of New Hartford said she chose the college because of its major in early childhood and childhood development. Her mother, Jolene, said that after two years at Mohawk Valley Community College, SUNY Cortland was the best choice for that degree program.
“Not really,” Jolene Madia said when asked if private colleges were options. She said some of her friends found financial aid packages for their children to attend private colleges but some had not.
Several families said they had driven up from Long Island and spent the night Thursday.
Xiomara White of Shoreham, in Suffolk County, said she spoke with her daughter Taylor about public versus private colleges. A third-grade teacher, she said she graduated from Adelphi University, a private college, “and I’m still paying off my loans.”
“So I told her, if you want to go to a private college, I’ll pay the SUNY part of it and you figure out how to pay the rest,” she said.
Taylor White said she has wanted to attend SUNY Cortland since she was in 10th grade. She plans to major in special education.
Her mother said Taylor also was accepted at Ithaca College and Sacred Heart but Ithaca is expensive and Sacred Heart, in Connecticut, is too close because it is across Long Island Sound via ferry.
“She needs to get the ‘away’ experience,” Xiomara White said.
Freshmen reported a rumor that so many new students had enrolled for on-campus housing that there were more triple rooms than usual. But Jim Hendrick, associate director of residence life and housing, said this year’s room assignments are typical.
“We had a problem a few years ago but not lately,” he said.
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