October 15, 2013


Students check out college

SUNY Cortland opens doors to hundreds of potential students

SUNYBob Ellis/staff photographer
Lynn Couturier, left, chairman of SUNY Cortland’s Physical Education Department, talks to a Long Island family about the educational opportunities available at the school during a tour Monday afternoon through the PER Center and Holsten Pool.

Staff Reporter

Hundreds of prospective students flocked to SUNY Cortland on Monday, scouring the campus and flooding tour guides with questions in an effort to whittle down their choices of possible college destinations.
With its well-regarded teacher and physical education programs, it’s no wonder that the school is at the top of the lists of many soon-to-be college students.
For some, the decision to attend Cortland was all but made, while for others, there were other things to consider.
For Gwen Ober, a 17-year-old senior at Ithaca High School, the campus tour was nothing new.
“I’ve probably visited three or four others,” said Ober, who said she is considering studying something to do with communications. “I had a contact who knew I would be looking at colleges and he suggested I come here.”
Ober said academics are certainly important to her in her college search, but she’s also looking for dynamic social offerings.
“I definitely think it’s a combination,” she said. “What I’m hoping to get out of college is an expansion of my horizons in all aspects of my life.”
“I want her to be productive and happy,” added Ober’s mother, Pat. “But that could be anywhere.”
While Ober is still weighing her options, another high school senior had entirely decided on becoming a Red Dragon.
“This is my first and only visit,” said McKenna Passalacqua, an 18-year-old from Whitesboro. “I’ve known I’m coming here the past year basically.”
A gymnast since the age of 3, Passalacqua said she settled on Cortland because of its gymnastics team, and admitted that she chose the school more because of its athletic offerings than its academic ones.
“I’m more of an athletic person, I guess,” said Passalacqua, who plans to study applied physical education and has already met with Cortland’s head women’s gymnastics coach, Gary Babjack.
“SUNY has a good reputation,” said Passalacqua’s mother, Lisa. “It’s reasonably priced, and I do like that it’s close by.”
Cortland’s student tour guides, who show visitors the campus and answer any questions they might have, said that the types of things that students and parents look for often differ along predictable lines.
“Is it easy to meet people? Are there enough things to do at the school? Will I get bored?” Ally Riemer, a junior speech and hearing sciences major, said of the types of questions that she most often hears from students.
“What happens is the parents have more of the academic concerns. They’re the ones who ask the questions while we walk through the academic buildings.”
Riemer said that while she was conducting her own college search, one of the chief factors in her decision was the athletic feel of the school.
“I think a lot of people who come here are interested in playing sports,” Riemer said. “That, or being near them.”
Parents are not the only ones placing primary importance on the school’s academic offerings, however. Amanda Dean, a senior at Victor High School near Rochester, said Cortland’s elementary education program is what caught her attention.
“I’ve wanted to be a teacher for about two years,” Dean said. “I’ve definitely been leaning toward the ones (colleges) that are good in education.”
It doesn’t hurt that Cortland is relatively close to home, either. Dean said that, although she’s had some trepidation, she couldn’t pass on the authentic college experience.
“I’ve debated for a long time about whether I wanted to live at home or at school,” Dean said. “But I want the feel of campus life.”
The school must be doing something right. For the 2012-13 school year alone, it received over 11,600 freshman applications, and turned down more than 5,200 of them.


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