Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

Piper Logo
November 13, 2012

Office of Admission Travels Far and Wide

By Abby Simmons

In a university first, road warriors from the Office of Undergraduate Admission are visiting all 50 states this fall.

Mike Steidel, director of admission, is making inaugural visits to Great Plains states such as Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming in addition to his annual trip to New England. He discussed some of his department's recruitment efforts by phone while waiting for a flight at Boston's Logan Airport.

"We targeted areas this year that we haven't been as successful at recruiting from in the past," Steidel said. "We want our student body to be as representative as possible."

As the university's reputation has grown and technology has evolved, the team has elected to participate in fewer college fairs. Staff members continue to visit individual public and private schools, although their most popular events are evening information sessions in targeted cities. The CMU-focused events typically attract 50 to 300 prospective students and parents.

CMU was one of the first admission departments in the country to move away from using "inquiry cards," an industry standard for collecting prospective students' contact information.

Admission staff and alumni volunteers with the Carnegie Mellon Admission Council direct students to connect with the office online.

Jason Nevinger, associate director of admission, said social media has become an essential part of the team's engagement strategy for students "because that's the environment they are living in." The vast majority of phone calls and emails his office receives come from parents.

Although technology has changed the way prospective students and parents communicate with admission professionals, the types of questions they ask have remained consistent - they often focus on academic quality and affordability.

"Students today seem to be more anxious about their chances for admission and making sure the school they choose is a good fit," Steidel said.

Global Awareness

While expanding the geographical reach of U.S. visits, the Office of Undergraduate Admission continues to recruit abroad. Nevinger traveled to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, with recruiters representing other University Athletic Association (UAA) schools in September. In previous years, he's visited India and the Middle East.

UAA admission staff hold collective information sessions that include a five-to-ten-minute introduction to each school followed by a traditional college fair. In some instances, they host a general question-and-answer session about applying to competitive U.S. universities.

"We are constantly on the go during these trips," Nevinger said. "I see the insides of the hotels, the schools and the airport. I've made four or five trips to Beijing, and I was thankful to have an afternoon off this year to see the
Forbidden City."

More than 17,000 domestic and international students applied for undergraduate admission for fall 2012.

"It's a challenge to manage all of this interest and still work to the individual student," Nevinger said. "Some of our peer institutions no longer conduct interviews or set aside the month of April like we do to focus on our yield. We want students to say, 'CMU cares about me.'"

For more information about CMU admission events visit

Assistance for Hurricane Sandy Victims

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Carnegie Mellon's Office of Admission, like many other admission offices across the country, pushed back the traditional deadline for early admission to Nov. 5. Director of Undergraduate Admission Mike Steidel said additional accommodations for early applicants needing more time will be considered.

"We're trying to be as flexible and as accommodating as we possibly can," Steidel said in an interview with USA Today. "If they're applying for early decision here, they're basically saying, 'Carnegie Mellon is my first choice.' So we definitely want to be flexible for students that really want to be here."