Free Application Day sets new records

CSU Lagoon

Colorado State University once again ruled the higher education landscape on the state’s second Free Application Day, securing almost twice as many applications as it did in 2018 and 1,782 more than its nearest competitor.

CSU received 9,128 applications from Colorado high school students on Oct. 15 – the day designated by Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Higher Education to encourage in-state students to apply to in-state schools. The University of Colorado had the second-highest total with 7,346. Overall, 44,360 total applications were sent to 13 state-funded, four-year schools, two community colleges and four private universities. CSU-Pueblo received a record 1,235 applications.

Remarkably, 20.6% of all applications came to CSU during the frenzied 24 hours.

“It was really exciting that day, watching the numbers come in the way they did,” said Heather Daniels, director of admissions at CSU. “Our team did a really great job of marketing Free App Day to students, and our processing team was ready when all of those applications started pouring in. It was all pretty amazing.”

Last year, Free App Day was put together fairly quickly and CDHE had little time for marketing the plan to the state’s high schools. Still, CSU received more than 5,500 applications, overwhelming the computer system that students use to apply. CSU’s total was significantly higher than every other school in the state.

More prepared this year

This year, Polis and the CDHE started marketing Free App Day in the summer and moved the date up a couple of weeks to better coincide with schedules at the high schools and colleges. Those efforts, combined with targeted marketing by CSU’s admissions office, not only produced eye-popping numbers here but across the state.

“We were much more prepared this year,” Daniels said. “Nobody thought we would receive as many as we did, but there was still a feeling of calm in our office because we were prepared.”

The real work, Daniels said, begins now as CSU works to turn applicants into Rams.

“We’ll be working with them to complete the process, making sure their test scores, transcripts and other materials are in and securing those deposits,” she said, noting that CSU had 3,342 first-year Colorado students enroll this fall.