Jay Jacobs is the Vice Provost Enrollment Management at the University of Vermont.
Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont (UVM for short) is a land grant research university in the state of Vermont.
Located in Burlington, Vermont, it has the distinction of being the 5th oldest university in the US.
Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:
Episode Title: Jay Jacobs, Vice Provost Enrollment at UVM: Distinctive Programs, State of the Art Labs, and Welcoming Community.
Episode summary introduction: Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont (UVM) is a land grant research university in the state of Vermont. Located in Burlington, Vermont, it has the distinction of being the 5th oldest university in the US.
Jay Jacobs, Vice Provost Enrollment at UVM talks about the school and its premier programs and shares his experiences and insights for students and parents.
In particular, we discuss the following with Jay:
Topics discussed in this episode:
Our Guest: Jay Jacobs is the Vice Provost Enrollment Management at the University of Vermont. Jay has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from St. Lawrence University, a Master’s degree in Higher Education from Drexel University and Doctor of Education from Northeastern University.
Memorable Quote: “My personal favorite part of the CREAM program is the dairy that is is harvested from the farm, is used to make ice cream that's served right here on our campus!” Jay Jacobs on the flagship program, Cooperative for Real Education in Agriculture Management (CREAM).
Episode Transcript: Please visit this episode’s transcript.
Transcript of the episode’s audio.
Really interesting and distinctive programs here at UVA. Pre med enhancement program, where our students are matched with research experiences met, met, current medical students as mentors, and the physician to shadow here on our campus, which is home to a level one trauma Medical Center.
And those students will graduate from UVM and get accepted into, into medical school at really high clip. So that's something to be proud of.
Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont (UVM for short) is a land grant research university in the state of Vermont.
Located in Burlington, Vermont, it has the distinction of being the 5th oldest university in the US.
On our podcast today, we are privileged to have Jay Jacobs, Vice Provost Enrollment at UVM.
Jay has been in the College Admissions for over a decade with experience in small and medium sized colleges and universities.
He is very comfortable on a college campus, as he and his team work to shape the future student body at UVM.
Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives, Five Highlights from the podcast:
[UVM - A Welcoming Community]
Our world class facilities here on campus in Burlington, Vermont, and are part of a really opening, open and welcoming community and one of the nation's best small cities, in my humble opinion, Burlington.
[Jay’s Calling - Admissions]
I knew that shortly after starting, knew that that was not for me, I just did not like shaving and putting my tie on every morning. And you know, hitting the pavement trying to hit my quota.
So, reached out to some mentors, found a full time position in college admissions at the College of New Jersey and medium sized public school and in Central New Jersey, have been, have really found my calling.
Well, our College of Arts and Sciences is our biggest school, which houses about half of our students and about half of our faculty, but really anything that, that revolves around environmental studies or sustainability, are really big draws to the University of Vermont, as our, as our other STEM programs.
[Type of Student UVM is looking for]
At time of application, you know, we're also looking for future alumni. So the admissions team is out recruiting students and reviewing applications. They're asking how students will be successful in our classrooms.
[Advice for 2022 Applicants]
You know, make sure you're telling your story, not the story you think the admissions office wants to hear. We want to learn about what you're good at, what your strengths are and what you're interested in, and then out of the classroom, and then ultimately what your dreams are. They can be super specific or incredibly vague, it doesn't matter. We just wanted to know what your 16, 17, 18 year old self likes about yourself, what others see in you and and what you're going to do on our campus and in our community.
Venkat Raman 3:47
Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Jay. So without further ado, over to Jay Jacobs!
Venkat Raman 3:56
Let me start by welcoming you to our podcast. Well, College Matters. Alma Matters. Really great that you could make the time. As we spoke, we're kind of catering to an audience of aspiring students, to primarily international students. So I thought your perspective would be of great value here. So thank you again.
Thanks so much for having me. I'm looking forward to our conversation today.
Venkat Raman 4:26
Absolutely. So let's kind of jump right in. And what we can do is maybe start by telling us about the University of Vermont. And then we can sort of get deeper into things.
Sure, absolutely. So the University of Vermont is the state flagship university here in the state of Vermont. Relatively old when it comes to colleges and universities founded in 1791, and two You know advanced the skills and knowledge that improve health of the individuals, societies and the natural world here around us.
Our, our land grant designation and the partnership with with the state has certainly underpinned that mission. And we enroll students from across the country and across the world who are learning and discovering, with our distinguished faculty members and scholars and scientists in our world class facilities here on campus in Burlington, Vermont, and are part of a really opening open and welcoming community and one of the nation's best small cities in my humble opinion. Burlington.
Venkat Raman 5:49
Talk a little bit about your background. You know why you got into this whole area of admissions and enrollment? And, an,d then we can sort of talk about various aspects of UVM.
Yeah, sure. So I've been in college admissions and enrollments for over a decade now. And started shortly after I myself graduated from college. But I knew that this is something that I, I found an interest in and passion, when I was a, you know, junior or senior in high school touring college campuses.
I knew that the students who are giving me those college tours was somebody who I wanted to be no matter where I ended up for college. And, sure enough, I did that when I was in when I was in my undergraduate studies.
Though, you know, during my time on campus, I saw upperclassmen go off into full time employment in higher education, whether that was college admissions, or residential life or some other area. And I always kind of thought, well, well, that's somewhat of a cop out, you know, I was, I was paying my my way through my undergraduate studies, you know, at that point, it was 160 grand over four years, or whatever it was, and right, I wanted to use my economics degree
And sure enough, after I graduated from college, I did a very short stint in business to business sales for Verizon. [I] knew that shortly after starting, knew that that was not for me, I just did not like shaving and putting my tie on every morning. And, and you know, hitting the pavement trying to hit my quota.
So, reached out to some mentors, found a full time position in college admissions at the College of New Jersey, a medium sized public school, in, in Central New Jersey. have been have really found my calling, I knew I felt comfortable on a college campus and have worked at TCNJ. Like I just mentioned, I did a small stint at Colgate University, made my way to Chicago Booth and did MBA admissions for a handful of years and then before coming to the University of Vermont, was at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. But I felt like I've really found a home here at UVM. And in Burlington.
Venkat Raman 8:20
Sure, and along the way, I think you picked up a PhD in higher education area. So obviously, this was a big commitment.
Yeah, I knew, I knew that I like I said, I knew I found my calling. And I invested in myself and did Drexel University's Master's program, and then Northeastern’s Doctorate of Education Program.
Venkat Raman 8:46
So I just sort of wanted to drill down and see what you felt were programs that, that you want to highlight from UVM different majors or different academic pursuits, things of that nature.
Sure Venkat. This is probably the hardest question you're going to ask me today because there's so much to highlight here.
You know, here students can really combine their studies, whether it's in the arts or humanities or any other fields with professional paths, like business or engineering, in a true academic sense, and the result then is a real balanced set of abilities that employers value.
You know, we have we have over 100 majors, so many more minors in fields that are spanning across agriculture, on life sciences, arts and humanities, business, education and social services, environment, nursing, health sciences, STEM, etc, etc. all offer many ways to blend students interests and give them a real career advantage when they graduate.
This, this well rounded Prep is is in my opinion, less available at smaller colleges with fewer offerings in that large are institutions with academic silos. So we're kind of that sweet spot with 11,000 undergrads just under 11,000 undergraduate students.
And we have four real education requirements for each of our students, information literacy, quantitative reasoning, diversity and sustainability. And, you know, the ability to couple your interests and passions from an academic standpoint with those four general education requirements, will just raise the professional preparedness and global competencies for the responsible citizens that we graduate.
But that being said, let me highlight three kind, of really interesting and distinctive programs here at UVA.
Premed enhancement program, where our students are matched with research experiences met met current medical students as mentors, and the physician to shadow here on our campus, which is home to a level one trauma Medical Center. And those students will graduate from UVM and get accepted into, into medical school at really high clip. So that's something to be proud of.
Another interesting program is our Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management or CREAM is the acronym and the cream students will undergraduate cream students will manage a 30 head dairy herd here in Burlington, and they are doing everything from milking, milking the herd to bringing different products to market. These students are going to vet veterinary schools and and the acceptance rates for cream students applying to vets is that schools is nearly 100%. My personal favorite part of the cream program is the dairy that is, is harvested from from the farm is used to make ice cream that's served right here on our campus. Maybe they're buying their their way onto this podcast through ice cream.
The last one, I'll highlight is the Vermont Legislative Research Service or VLRS, which are students here who are guided by our expert faculty and provide nonpartisan research to inform decisions made by the Vermont State Legislature. This, this program, really prep students for law school and students who go through it will have over a 90% admission rate into law school.
Venkat Raman 12:36
What are your most popular sort of majors if you will? One or two? The top couple?
Yeah, well, our College of Arts and Sciences is our biggest school has, which houses about half of our students and about half of our faculty, but really anything that that revolves around Environmental studies or Sustainability are really big draws to the University of Vermont as our, as our other STEM programs.
You know, some of our newest facilities here on campus are our discovery and innovation halls, which house state of the art STEM research labs.
Venkat Raman 13:21
I guess the big question for a lot of listeners is, what do you what are you looking for in students? I mean, what's a typical, If that is such a thing, Student at UVM look like?
Yeah, that's a good question. The typical student we are known our student body is known for what we call being decidedly different. Students who are individual, individualistic and comfortable being different.
What we're looking for, though, are students who fit into our communities, students, students who are movers and shakers, you know, so being decidedly different, but at the same time, a part of the grander whole. So our students live together in residential learning communities during their first two years with us. And thus, it's important to be a community member, but the breadth that I was explaining earlier of UVM is true in and outside of the classroom.
So students can come here, knowing who they are or on the journey to find themselves. And, and, and we'll welcome all, all of those types of students.
At a time of application, you know, we're also looking for future alumni. So the admissions team is out recruiting students and reviewing applications. They're asking how students will be successful in our classrooms. And are asking, ask and, they're asking while they're reviewing those applications, how students will blossom into one of our vibrant alumni that are doing really interesting things in healthcare and the arts and policy all over the map.
Venkat Raman 14:57
Given all your experience with different students on different campuses, how how do you think students have evolved, if you will, if that's the right word over the last decade, and then we can talk about international students? What kind of things are you seeing?
Yeah, I think students have evolved over the last decade in a number of different ways. I think that students are becoming more and more of a global citizen and care more about things that will impact grand, greater society rather than, you know, how much money am I going to make when I graduate, Personally?
You know, so whether it is, you know, causes that are very important to us here at UVM. in Burlington, social justice causes environmentalism and sustainability causes. How can we provide the best health care to protect ourselves but also the people around us?
I think that these kinds of group thinking mentalities is certainly new to students in the past decade, coupled with the types of schools that they're looking for, right, you know, over, you know, early, probably a decade ago was waiting, you know, small, private, rural liberal arts colleges were kind of the heat of the moment, then we saw students looking for schools and in major metropolitan areas.
So look at the rises of Northeastern, or Tulane or the University of Miami, these types of schools in major metropolitan cities, you know.
I think we're kind of at an inflection point now, where, you know, UVM is, is poised to be really successful, where we are in a great small city with a lot of great amenities, but not the huge densification, like we've like, like you might experience in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles.
So I think, I think students will start to look for for schools, like the University of Vermont, in cities like Burlington.
Venkat Raman 17:10
You mentioned University of Miami, where we spend some time how, how do you feel students are different? I mean, do, do they have a different character and different on different campuses? Or would you with a broad brush say that, that, you know, that is a direction or a trend there?
Um, no, I don't think you know, I don't think students are, are wildly different from campus to, in general, I don't think students are extremely different from one another.
Of course, you know, campuses will have their culture and that and therefore will attract different types of different types of students.
So, you know, in, in, at the University of Miami, we knew that we weren't for everybody. And students would walk across campus and hear four different languages and, you know, live in a really international place like Miami, but that that isn't for for everybody.
And on the flip side, here in Burlington, right, this kind of, this kind of experience isn't isn't for everybody, either. So I'm not, you know, we at the University of Vermont, no, we're we're probably not competing with the University of Miami for the same types of students. And they, and they similarly feel the same about the students that we attract at UVM, I'm sure.
But students, no, I don't think, you know, I don't think that they are, are drastically different overall, they are, they care about what they want to study, they care about their individual passions and interests.
And then, you know, as any new student would, you know, they want to find, their, their friends over the next 4, 4 years that they'll call friends for life.
Venkat Raman 18:58
What's the experience been with international students over, over your couple of, I guess, a decade plus?
Sure. So, here, the last decade here at the University of Vermont, you know, we've enrolled anywhere from 20 to 50 international students per per year, and thus we definitely have work to do, but I think that we are on the right path.
The University of Vermont, and Burlington is a lovely place for international students. For many of the reasons I talked about earlier. Its vibrancy, it's acceptance of people who are different than the, than the local citizenry here.
And just the fact that you know, we're an approachable place and approachable city. It's not super super overwhelming for international students who aren't coming from major metropolitan areas, overseas.
Our global reach at at the University of Vermont, it will will start to become part of the forefront of our recruitment strategy. And is already at the at one of the top most level priorities for for senior level administration.
We we'd love to be able to grow our international student body both at the undergraduate and the graduate levels. And we'll be seeking out partners in the near term to help us grow in these efforts, grow in international study abroad programs that are administered by the University of Vermont, grow partnerships to send our students to have international internship and research experience, etc.
Our president Suresh Garimella, is very connected in places like India, Colombia and Peru. And hopefully we can lean on his relationships and others that we've been building over the last decade to help us move the needle.
Venkat Raman 20:48
Absolutely. Well, what percentage of students or undergraduate students are international today?
It's only about 1% of our undergraduate students who are international. But we were putting together a comprehensive international recruitment strategy as we speak.
Venkat Raman 21:08
I thought we could segue a little and talk about something that's been affecting all of us for the last year and a half almost now. It's the COVID-19.
So I kind of wanted to talk about how you felt UVM approached it, and how you see things unfolding saying fall 2021.
Yeah, absolutely. So UVM, whether the pandemic quite well, actually. A you know, big part of that is, is our students, our students were absolutely fantastic. And probably the major reason for our success. They were originally tested once per week, until the spring where we tested everybody twice a week. In fact, about a third of all testing here in the state of Vermont happened right here on our campus. So you know, wore masks inside and out everywhere they went, stayed six feet away from each other, and certainly cared about one another. The community aspect that I talked about before, I mean, that's you know, that was the, the diamond in the rough. That was the reason for our success. Each student lived up to it.
Our Residential Life team did an outstanding job with quarantine and isolation housing, we had creative ways to keep students engaged with one another, safely and outdoors. President Garimella put fire pits outside of the student center for students to gather around on evenings. We built an ice rink outside and over on our residential campus.
Just this weekend, my family and I were walking across campus and realized that it was Porch Fest, so there was live music everywhere we turned. I can't tell you how good it felt to hear live music again.
But because of the students’ willingness to keep everybody safe, we're really excited for an on campus and in person commencement ceremony in a couple of weeks, where every graduate is able to invite two vaccinated guests to be in attendance.
And then we're planning for a completely normal Fall 21 turn. or whatever normal is going to look like 94% of our classes, as of, as of today are, are being planned to be taught in person and on campus. And we're in the planning stages for an orientation in late August with our 3000 new first time first year and transfer students and welcome them to the university and in Burlington and early in early, in late August and early September.
Venkat Raman 23:47
That sounds great. Now, at this point, what fraction of the students are on campus?
About 90% of our students chose to be on campus? Oh, wow. This year, we've been we've been we've been really fortunate to you know, you'll walk around and you don't necessarily feel like it's 90%. But that's because of the distancing and creative ways that we that we got students to engage with each other safely.
But we've been really lucky to have our students here on our campus. And even you know, these these, these 11,000 undergraduate students, you know, bring so many of the economic stability and jobs to the Burlington area. So we've been really grateful that they've decided to show up.
So I kind of wanted to lead in from there to thinking about students who are maybe applying for Fall 2022 and how they ought to approach their applications. You know, I'm assuming you are Test optional. And all the other sort of might want to call it side effects or impact of COVID and circumstances?
How should they think about it? And how are you guys sort of approaching?
Sure. So I don't know if there's much that applicants should do much differently, pre pre or post COVID, my advice has always been, you know, enjoy the process, present your candidacy for admission, by telling your story using all of the different components of the application. You know, make sure you're telling your story, not the story you think the admissions office wants to hear, we want to learn about what you're good at, what your strengths are, and what you're interested in, and then out of the classroom, and then ultimately, what your dreams are.
They can be super specific or incredibly vague, it doesn't matter. We just wanted to know what your 16, 17, 18 year old self likes about yourself, what others see you and and what you're going to do on our campus and in our community.
What are we doing different, I mean, I think this is really the exciting part of of how COVID is forced us to be different and be creative.
We’ve been able to reach broader audiences, because we don't have to get on a plane and fly everywhere, right? So we can have virtual information sessions, we've been offering prospective students and admitted students to have personal one-on-one conversations with our current students here on campus, or our faculty members here on campus.
We, you know, and we'll, we'll move all of this, all of these different strategies, will move them out forward into the future, even when were able to get back on planes and come into your high schools. And, and, you know, say hello in person. So I think that that is really, really exciting.
And it allows us to really showcase the university, to people and in places that we've never been able to do that before. And, you know, which will be critical to the success of any institution, broaden our access, allow ourselves to be accessible to students who didn't think that the Vermont education was, was, was available to them? Or had never heard of us in, in a corner of the world that we haven't been to.
Venkat Raman 27:39
As we kind of, you know, wind down here, what kind of message do you want to send to international students? And I do, I do, I would be, it'd be nice if you could also comment on financial aid and things of that nature.
But first, maybe what, you know, you are trying to grow your international base. So what kind of message do you want to send them? And then any thoughts on financial aid?
Yeah, sure. So, you know, my advice to aspiring students in the admissions process is to enjoy the process. Like I said, You know, I understand it's a stressful process, I understand that in many cases, it's going to feel like a competitive process.
But if you do what I just told you enjoy the process, you know, it's really going to shine through through your applications. Those are the applications that I've always loved to read most. And you can tell when, when a student showcases themselves and tells their story while they're enjoying that process.
For international students specifically, I mean, I would I would talk to current students on campus if, if possible, usually international admissions. officers will be able to connect, connect students, international students with other international students on campus. Hopefully, even an international student from either your country or your region, so that you can understand how life on campus is and you know, here at UVM, hopefully, you're able to do that so that you hear about the vibrant and accepting community that I was talking about earlier.
In terms of financial aid, you know, students should be and very much are savvy customers, right, but the sticker prices are just that really. I do note, I do have to note, however, at UVM our tradition, our tuition and fees have been frozen for the past three years. We just announced that a couple of months ago for the third year in a row so no increases in tuition and fees whatsoever.
But the price you should be willing to pay is hard, is hard to determine. Of course, you know, you need to take out outcomes and graduation rates and indebtedness levels and average salary for alumni etc, into your consideration.
But there's also some intangible experience of being on campus and a community of 1000s of other peers, faculty, and staff who are all cheering for you and supporting for you. So that number is going to be hard to quantify in your, in your calculations. So there's an art and a science to kind of determining the ROI, right. You have to feel like you're gonna get your money's worth. But you'll have to justify the investment at the same time from a dollars and cents perspective.
So, financial aid, certainly the consideration, but the lowest net cost of your laid packages that gets sent home won't always be the campus or institution that you were meant to be at.
So, you know, if you're listening to this podcast, I trust that you will make the right choice for you and your family. And if it's UVM, then that makes me even more excited to welcome you to Burlington.
Venkat Raman 31:00
So, Jay, anything else you want to add that we may not have covered or something that you want to highlight, before we kind of sign off?
No, I don't think so. Venkat again, I mean, I think that the University of Vermont is a really unique and special place in a unique and in special environment. And anyone who's interested in learning more can, can check us out firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to feel free to get in touch with me. All of our contact information is right on the website. So thanks so much for having me today, Venkat.
Venkat Raman 31:37
No, my pleasure. So thank you so much for making the time. And I think certainly, you've shared a lot of good information. And you know, I'm sure people will follow up. So, I'm sure I will also want to talk to you some more. So we'll do that in the future.
But for now, take care. Be safe. Thank you.
Thank you, you too, and to your listeners as well.
Venkat Raman 31:59
Thank you. Bye Bye.
Hope you enjoyed this podcast with Jay Jacobs, Vice Provos Enrollment at UVM.
I hope you got an insider’s look at UVM, its flagship programs, the opportunities it offers as well as what they are looking for in their students.
Do dig deeper into UVM.
In addition, we have provided contact inormation in the Episode Notes to request more information from the Admissions at UVM.
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