Towson Perceptions Series Part 2: Students evaluate academic rigor
Kristen Junquet said when she was applying to Towson, she wasn’t overly impressed with the school. She had to choose between Towson and West Chester University in Pennsylvania, but selected here because it was relatively close to her home in Central Jersey.
“It wasn’t my safety but it wasn’t my reach either,” she said.
Students like Junquet have heard anonymous whispers of the rigor of the institution. Towson has historically been perceived as a second or third-choice institution; a view some administration says is erroneous.
Admission standards have seen only a slight bump in the past five years. The rate of freshmen admissions in fall 2005 was 65 percent, while fall 2012, 52 percent of applicants were admitted.
However, the total number of applicants has increased—the office of admissions received 11,750 freshman applications in 2005 and 2012 they received just over 18,000.
SAT and GPA standards have maintained steady since 2007—the average SAT being the mid-1600s and the average GPA ranging from 3.5-3.7.
Bob Giordani, the registrar, solely attributes the increased number of applications to Towson’s adoption of a common application system, not increased interest in the University. A prospective student will complete just one common application and a pay a fee to send it to multiple schools, an easier process than filling out unique forms from multiple institutions.
University President Maravene Loeschke said that other schools within the University System of Maryland, University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore County, receive more funding because of their status as research institutions. Though professors are hired to instruct, they divide their time between independent research and teaching.
Towson is one of the comprehensive institutions in the USM, along with Frostburg and Salisbury. The two models are not comparable, Loeschke said, as the focus on certain disciplines is more emphasized.
U.S. News & World Report, which ranks institutions based on student-to-faculty ratio, academic performance and other resources, does not even classify Towson and College Park within the same category—Towson is a regional school, with a full undergraduate curriculum, but few doctorates, and nationals, like College Park, offer a full range of programs.
“But I’ve never heard one word on the system that doesn’t recognize the rigor of our program,” Loeschke said.
Some degree requirements are equivalent among the comprehensive institutions: a general studies, liberal arts foundation paired with a similar number of core classes in a major.
Towson has been recognized as a bargain by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, who named it one of the best value institutions.
The tuition is low comparably to other schools within the USM, particularly College Park and UMBC.
So while prospective college students may have wanted to attend a research institution, based on financial constraints, they chose Towson, attributing to the growth of Towson, Deputy Chief of Staff Marina Cooper said.
“There’s a great demand to get into school,” she said. “People have figured out we’re a great deal.”
Any negative stigmas about being a second-rate institution that linger are a product of past perceptions, Loeschke said.
“Our data doesn’t reflect that at all,” she said. “We turn away 8,000 students a year, three times as many as I had at Mansfield all together. We’re not taking everybody.”