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Mason Gross enrolls highest percentage of out of state students at Rutgers

 Oladayo Alade, a Mason Gross School of the Arts sophomore, said she chose to attend Rutgers because there were various concentrations within the film department she was interested in learning about.  – Photo by Photo by Courtesy of Oladayo Alade | The Daily Targum

Compared to other undergraduate schools at Rutgers, Mason Gross School of the Arts has the highest percentage of out-of-state students, close to double that of the School of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering. 

According to the final enrollment report from 2018, 23.0 percent of students at Mason Gross School of the Arts were from out of state. This compares to 14.8 percent of out-of-state students enrolled in the School of Arts and Sciences and 12.6 percent in the School of Engineering. 

Kara Cabrera, the director of Admissions at Mason Gross School of the Arts, attributes this figure to the faculty at the school. She said the faculty roster includes professional artists who have been nominated and have gone on to win Tony Awards, Guggenheim fellowships, Bessies, Grammys and other honors.

Since students have the opportunity to study with these professors, many of whom are active professionals in their field, Cabrera said it helps to instill confidence, a reason that out-of-state students may apply to Mason Gross. 

Another reason why the percentage may be so high is because Rutgers is very close to New York City, which Cabrera said was “one of the undisputed meccas of performing and visual arts.”

As a smaller conservatory, with only approximately 800 undergraduate students, she said prospective students can also learn in a more intimate setting and receive personalized attention. 

Mason Gross is also more selective than other schools at Rutgers. According to a report from Peterson’s, the acceptance rate for Mason Gross was 21 percent. The overall University acceptance rate was much higher at 58 percent, according to US News.

The admissions process for Mason Gross is slightly different from other schools such as the School of Arts and Sciences or School of Engineering, Cabrera said. Students must also send a supplementary application, which can involve an audition for those looking to major in dance, music or acting, or an interview for those planning to major in theater design, technical direction or stage management. 

Faculty members are also involved in the decision process, since some of them review the “artistic ability” of any applicants majoring in visual arts, design or filmmaking and provide an evaluation to the Mason Gross Admissions process, Cabrera said. 

Though the out-of-state percentage is much higher at Mason Gross than other schools, she said that state residency is not part of the evaluation when reviewing a prospective student’s application. 

The departments within Mason Gross that have the highest percentage of out-of-state students are Theater, which Cabrera said is between 60 and 75 percent out-of-state students, and Dance, with between 35 and 50 percent.

Claire Zwolak, a Mason Gross School of the Arts first-year from Philadelphia, said she chose Rutgers despite not being from New Jersey because of its well-known dance program.

“They bring in amazing choreographers every semester, and first-years are given the opportunity to audition for their pieces, which is almost unheard of at other schools,” she said.

When it comes to her classes, she had ballet every morning at 8 a.m. except Fridays, and anywhere from two to five classes afterward which she said is intense on both the mind and the body. 

She has also noticed the high percentage of out-of-state students, but does not see it as a positive or negative fact. Since she is attending Rutgers with a scholarship, she said price was a factor into her decision to come to Rutgers. 

Oladayo Alade, a Mason Gross School of the Arts junior from Michigan, said she decided to come to Rutgers because of the three various concentrations offered within film. She had also transferred from Rutgers—Newark to Rutgers—New Brunswick in order to learn at Mason Gross.

“I want to have the opportunity to direct, produce, write and act in one of my films,” she said. “And I believed that Mason Gross was the perfect place to explore all of those options.”

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