I'll start answering questions at 1p EST but here's a little backrground information: I have 28 years of experience in admissions. My job has taken me to six continents (we’re always looking for qualified students from Antarctica, BTW) and over 51 countries. In my spare time I enjoy GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and spending time with my dogs, Tuck and Stella.

THANK YOU for all the questions. I'll be back soon because this was fun. You're welcome to redirect questions to my email meanwhile [email protected].


PROOF: Twitter: @URAdmissions www.rochester.edu https://www.facebook.com/URAdmissions

Comments: 296 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

UR_Jburdick75 karma

Stannis the Mannis

tobular49 karma

Class of 2017 student here. Thanks for the acceptance!

UR_Jburdick25 karma

You're most welcome! See you in about 2 weeks!

nwbenj39 karma

What does the University of Rochester's motto, Meliora, mean to you?

UR_Jburdick117 karma

You can't trick me into giving away the best answers for our supplemental application.

jkurtis8 karma

rephrasing- How does what you do in your job reflect the idea of becoming ever better? What are things you have pushed for/done to achieve this?

UR_Jburdick17 karma

Wow--I live Meliora nonstop. I truly believe incremental positive change is the best way forward in life. You get breakthroughs and they're amazing, but "planning" for them seems foolish. So we've grown in purposeful ways during my entire ten years here (both enrollment and admissions activity).

mnk36932 karma

Although U of R has very high academic prestige, it is not that well known by people. How do U of R students rank in employ-ability and how well do employers think of them?

UR_Jburdick33 karma

I've never known a Rochester student who couldn't get a job. I'm happier to say most of them have enough confidence to look for and ultimately get really good jobs--the kind they like doing rather than just those that pay the bills. Rochester isn't a household name but (as it turns out) most colleges aren't. Our reputation has grown over 10 years mostly through word-of-mouth, which is sustainable, rather than one-time media buys.

nwbenj25 karma

In your 28 years has any one application (or a few) stood out from the others?

UR_Jburdick30 karma

One of my favorite applicants of all time is now my regional director in New York City. He distinguished himself as an inventive leader on paper, including staging a protest walkout at his public school in Portland. When we met for his interview he talked about it with a sense of humor. Challenging the status quo and demonstrating humor both go a long way with me.

unkn0wn116 karma

I've got a few questions:

  1. Would you say that it is essentially a requirement for local students to interview in order to get in?

  2. How do you see the University expanding in the future? (e.g. internationally, becoming more selective, opening up more residence halls across the river, etc.)

  3. What the hell happened this past year? Were the expected yields miscalculated or something? (for reference, some nontraditional students are gonna have to live in upperclassmen housing because there aren't enough spots in freshman housing) Does the University plan to increase class sizes, and is there a plan to make the university more selective by slightly diminishing class sizes?

  4. (EDIT) Do you think less local students will apply in the future because tuition waivers no longer cover tuition fully (if a parent works as faculty at the University)?

UR_Jburdick17 karma

3) This year we had a surge in applications from very-well-qualified applicants. History would have told us that our yield was going to decrease a lot. It didn't. The phenomenon was particularly striking with international students, where average test scores were up more than 100 points for admitted. We believed they'd choose elsewhere (they tend to be more sensitive to rankings) but they're coming to Rochester. My apologies to upperclassmen who were displaced, although Rochester's percentage of upperclassmen housed on campus remains one of the highest you'll see at any university.

UR_Jburdick9 karma

1) pretty much yes. Why should a student who lives <10 miles away get a pass on showing that they've done their homework about what Rochester really does and doesn't offer them? 2) more international seems likely. We're way out in front of peers and it has been positive all the way. More selectivity also seems a given, since that has grown each year. More residence halls across the river--we're coming to the end of a period of rapid enrollment growth, so probably not. We'll see more upperclassmen searching for private housing on the other side of the river, however.

Bradams12812 karma

How will Rochester market itself over the next 10 years and how will this affect our global impact? Also, are there any plans (other than College Town of course) that will make UR more attractive for prospective students against our peers (Emory, UChicago, Northwestern, Brown, etc.)?

UR_Jburdick11 karma

Rochester has three things going for it that have contributed to 40% growth in enrollment over the last 7 years--1) commitment to growing new programs, facilities and faculty; 2) unique curricular philosophy; 3) that unusual combination of huge research with still-small undergraduate population, so most/best teaching is actually coaching. We're ahead of most peers. We stack up well against almost anybody and we've made inroads head-to-head against several peers per the numbers, including all four of the schools you're listing.

bwightman11 karma

UR Class of 2002 alum here. Just wondering if anyone has actually been trapped inside Dean Burgett's fiery furnace?

UR_Jburdick23 karma

At last count 37 students were in there. In winter months people go searching for it.

collegebound20149 karma

What separates Rochester's engineering from other school's engineering?

UR_Jburdick11 karma

Research--direct, hands-on, side-by-side with faculty. Lots of it.

AzmayeenRhythm9 karma

what do you look for most in an applicant , when considering him/her for a merit scholarship ?

UR_Jburdick9 karma

I published a blog about this with a lot of detail that I intend to update. As it turns out all kinds of things mattered in scholarship decisions, since (like admission decisions) we make them one at a time. Biggest single impactful factor was communicating with the admissions and financial aid offices.

AzmayeenRhythm8 karma

How does the university help aspiring undergraduates who want to do research ??

UR_Jburdick12 karma

The door is open to anyone who's willing to hustle and learn, and 90% of Rochester undergraduates do it. We give one grant program for some entering students, and another for students once they're here.

NDaveT8 karma

Hot dogs: white or red?

UR_Jburdick8 karma

I'm kind of a tofu guy (California roots).

EatingSandwiches17 karma

What makes you think you have what it takes at Reddit University?

UR_Jburdick15 karma

I'm new here but I'd say I have good grades and scores and a fantastic resume.

ayang7047 karma

What do you really look for in application essays?

UR_Jburdick10 karma

Personal, authentic voice. Mechanics (spelling, sentence structure etc.) can't be so bad that they get in the way, but I'm trying to read an essay to see if it feels like I'm talking to and listening to a real person. The only way to get there is to give yourself time (as in weeks/months) to return to it several times and do multiple rewrites.

forum_irl5 karma

UR Class of 2012 graduate here. Living in New York City now. How feasible is it for younger graduates to get involved with doing interviews for the school or speaking at college fairs on behalf of the University?

UR_Jburdick7 karma

We are eager to put students like you to work, and we do a LOT of work in NYC. We will be hosting our 7th annual breakfast for NYC area counselors in cooperation with Emory, Carnegie-Mellon and...Brandeis? Tufts? (one of those) this fall, and I'd like to stack the tables with local impressive young alumni. Contact our office (Beth Luke) for more information on getting involved.

AzmayeenRhythm5 karma

Can I send my SAT reasoning or subject test scores after November 1st , if I apply under ED ?

UR_Jburdick4 karma

Yes if they arrive any time before December 6th or so you're golden.

NeoCat1645 karma

Are there any creative Youtube videos in the making from Rochester Admissions that we should keep our eyes peeled for?

PS: How did you choose your dogs' names?

UR_Jburdick8 karma

Our new videographer has just started. Look for good stuff from him soon.

"Stella!" is my Marlon Brando shout for a full-of-life, runaway dog. The whole neighborhood helps her come back to me. Tuck looks like Friar Tuck, sort of. Fat, with a cross on his face.

EuphoricCoffee5 karma

Is next year's admissions going to be EVEN more selective after you guys getting your two largest classes ever?

UR_Jburdick13 karma

It may have to be a lot more selective next year. The housing staff certainly hope so.

lydiags5 karma

Is the essay really the most important part of an application or can someone be admitted because of outstanding test scores and GPA?

UR_Jburdick7 karma

It's easier to power through weak test scores in particular than a weak essay. In terms of impact on your chances, I'd say GPA and test scores have a (soft) floor, but most applicants face a hard and fast ceiling (we have many who are perfect, and turn many of those down), while essays have a 'higher' floor (it possible to write your way out of admission), and almost no ceiling.

VIctoria275 karma

What are your requirements inside and outside of academics (such as charity work) for admissions?

UR_Jburdick11 karma

"Requirements" is kind of a dirty word at Rochester. Our aim is to support you in requiring a lot of yourself, whatever form that might take. Doesn't bother me at all to admit a student who thinks charity work is completely uninteresting, as long as s/he articulates well something s/he does instead.

HyperionCantos5 karma

Ever had anybody contact you directly to try to get admitted?

UR_Jburdick13 karma

LOL all the time. Doesn't work the way they think it does. It works if I learn things about them that are very appealing.

mnk3694 karma

Since there is no major in civil engineering, what options does a student interested in that field have?

UR_Jburdick7 karma

Some students have designed their own engineering major. The closest established major (and it's very interesting) is Archaeology, Technology and the History of Structures. Enough math and physics to advance you in your civil engineering career, plus you get to spend a summer in Italy studying the foundations of 2,000 years of Western building.

Sherryyu4 karma

Do you always check reddit comments here? I mean, if I have some questons in the future how could I connect with you?

AzmayeenRhythm4 karma

About the special programs at UR like the ' Take Five ' , 'Travel grants' ..are international students eligible for these programs ??

UR_Jburdick3 karma

Yes, absolutely. We flew students here from Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Norway, Beijing, Mumbai last year (more that's just off the top of my head). Take Five is possible for anyone with a great project idea.

AzmayeenRhythm3 karma

Does UR take in person interviews for international students?

And , when would the dates be ready for international interviews ?

UR_Jburdick4 karma

We love interviews and we spend a lot of time all over the world doing them. Schedule is up or nearly so...matter of days if not available yet. Check again by the end of the week.

AzmayeenRhythm3 karma

Thanks sir ..

UR_Jburdick4 karma

You're welcome.

nae72153 karma

How does your process of selecting Early Admission applicants differ from that of Regular Decision applicants?

What do you think is the greatest benefit from U Rochester's "cluster" system?

Any other information for a prospective Physics major going into her junior year of high school? Thanks :)

UR_Jburdick5 karma

Because Early Decision is a commitment from students, parents, and counselors, these applicants are more likely to gain admission on average.

Work hard in your physics and related courses (math, chemistry) but cultivate some creative thinking too. The best success in physics requires some openness to new ideas and challenges to orthodoxy.

lholt3 karma

Hello, Mr. Burdick. Can you tell me anything about the diversity of UR?

UR_Jburdick5 karma

Diversity (cognitive) has been my number-one priority for my ten years here. I'm pleased and it's fun every day to see how much diversity has grown on campus, and I mean all kinds, including racial/ethnic/national. Basically I take seriously the idea that no two Rochester students should think alike, and that's the way we read apps. For the objective data: this fall's freshman class is 'majority-minority,' unheard of among peer-private schools. We have a very high share of low-income students and all of that perspective, unlike many peer schools recently criticized in the New York Times. We have 71 nations in the freshman class, and our in-state percentage is lower than some of the Ivy League schools. Etc.

lholt3 karma

Thank you very much for responding.

UR_Jburdick3 karma

My pleasure thanks for the question.

dvit3 karma

As a current U of R student, I often feel that if I was current High School student applying to UR, I wouldn't even get in!

How much have the acceptance standards been raised over the past 5 or so years?

UR_Jburdick6 karma

More than doubled, in terms of selectivity.

yijiewang2 karma

Hi, nice to chat with you. I am a student from China. As we all know, there is an increasing tendency for Chinese students to study in America and the competition is really intense. many of Chinese students have SAT 2200+ and TOEFL 105+. I know grades don't mean anything. So I just wonder

1\what kind of attitudes and strategy do you hold towards international students and which kind of undergraduates are you looking for (I mean, what kind of personality or traits).

2\As for the schools, I would like to know what the spirits of U Rochester, what are the way or idea of teaching, why it is different from other universities, what the influences or traits do the college imparts to the students, what contributions and inspirations can we gain and make inside and outside the college.

3\and after all, why do you choose to work in U Rochester for so long, what does the college attracts you?

Thank you~~~

UR_Jburdick3 karma

I just returned from 10 cities/12 days in China. The rules aren't different. We look for individual personalities, interests, and goals. Every Chinese student is different here (too). 2) Rochester starts with this motto "Excellence requires freedom." Meaning if a student isn't motivated to learn, nothing else matters (it has a particular resonance vis-a-vis the Chinese national secondary curriculum). 3) I love the students who come here and the young alumni they turn into. They're smart, funny, and contrarian--all the things I admire in people.

mnk3692 karma

When an individual is accepted to U of R, are they accepted to all of its schools and colleges?

UR_Jburdick3 karma

All same admission policy except Eastman performance (music) degree programs. There the audition is paramount.

sallesgabriel2 karma

Do you offer any financial aid or scholarships for non permanent/ international applicants?

UR_Jburdick4 karma

Some. No guarantees beyond Canada, Mexico, and our biggest merit scholarship winners, but we give enough help to make it worthwhile for international students to complete the CSS Profile.

mnk3692 karma

How easy is it to double major across schools?

UR_Jburdick7 karma

It's so easy that I think everyone should do it. For one thing every school except Eastman/music is under the same admissions program, and we're not limiting our admission based on your academic goals. For another we don't require any general education courses (years sometimes elsewhere) so fitting in that totally different second major is simpler here.


When deciding to accept or reject an applicant, do you tend to discriminate by their intended major?

Well, that's enough English majors for me today! Toss!

UR_Jburdick9 karma

We don't discriminate on intended major, except if we have to guess that a student wouldn't succeed (i.e. a potential engineering major with a noticeable deficit in math preparation and achievements).

collegebound20142 karma

Hello thank you for doing this, I am entering my senior year of high school this year. I have taken many AP and honors classes and am heavily involved in student activities and sports. I am a white middle class male. How does someone like me appear diverse on an application?

UR_Jburdick7 karma

collegebound, it's all about how you think. I guarantee you that 17 years of lived experiences in your environment, and the effects those experiences have generated in your brain, have given you some perspectives no other white middle class male has. Find them and show them to us.

TheMrthenao2 karma

How competitive is the GEAR program and what kind of characteristics do you look for in applicants to the program?

UR_Jburdick5 karma

It got very competitive this past year with >200 applicants, and has grown each year. Academic success matters, but we also conduct interviews on campus, so personal qualities and ambitions can matter too.

14mblatt2 karma

Can I use SUPA credit towards a course? I know AP credit is accepted but I'm not sure about SUPA credit

UR_Jburdick4 karma

No we don't accept SUPA sorry.

aks35742 karma

Would like to know about the BS-MD program at ROchester - how hard is it to get in - rqmnts etc.

UR_Jburdick5 karma

Nearly 100 applicants for every space, so hugely competitive. At that ratio I think you do your best and hope for miracles.

mnk3692 karma

Is it possible for an engineering student to switch to the business school after 1 year, in terms of catching up, being able to graduate in 4 years, having to apply to the business school separately?

UR_Jburdick5 karma

An engineering major can switch almost any time (it gets complicated in 3rd year only because it takes time to complete). Most engineering students could actually complete the full business second major if they want that, and if they plan well.

MishyHD2 karma

Hello! Thank you for doing this. So as a high school student who is looking at Rochester as a possible college and as one who has an interview scheduled there, could you explain briefly how an interview at Rochester might play out? And how much weight it has in the overall decision of acceptance, if any at all?

UR_Jburdick6 karma

Interview is the "third dimension." If your application is not strong without it, it's not going to make you suddenly great. If your application is very strong without it, you're only going to hurt yourself a bit with a bad interview. Most interviews are very good and I'd say 85% of them enhance an applicant's chances for admission.

ayang7042 karma

In terms of students, do you scour the applicants to look for people who are especially outgoing and extroverts, or do you also look for individuals who are slightly more quiet and introverted (diversity)?

UR_Jburdick3 karma

We like both introverts and extraverts. The former probably do better in the written parts of the application, and the latter in the interview.

[deleted]2 karma


UR_Jburdick4 karma

Highly selective (1%) and so the 'requirements' are usually straights As or close to it, and high test scores--but those things alone aren't enough. Compassion and a clear vision about the medical profession are useful too.

csmith510282 karma

Pleasure to chat with you Dean Burdick. I am a rising senior and I will be applying to University of Rochester in the fall. U of R is one of my top choice schools. I love the location, academics, and strong science program at U of R. I was wondering though, if I would benefit from applying as a non-bio or science major, even though I'm a pre-med student? I would like a chance to explore other subject areas, such as political science, European history, and Classic literature, before delving into the intensive bio and science curriculum of med school. Thank you for this opportunity to chat with you and I look forward to visiting campus soon! -Cynthia Smith

UR_Jburdick10 karma

Oh please, please, please, do pre-med without making yourself be a bio major. There's no great reason to be a bio major on your way to medical school. It turns out that great doctors are strong in many fields of human endeavor, not just bio. Please.

aspergillus2 karma

How do admissions work for masters programs that are unrelated to an applicant's undergraduate major?

I'm curious about the computer science masters program at U of R, but my undergraduate degree is in biotechnology and my masters is in microbiology. I'd like to earn a degree in computer science so I'm better equipped to analyze large data sets that come from genomics studies.

I'm assuming I'll need to fulfill some required coursework before I can enter the program. Do I need to apply and be accepted into the undergraduate computer science program and then switch to the master's program if I'm accepted? How does taking the prerequisites for a graduate program work if I'd like to take them at University of Rochester?

UR_Jburdick5 karma

You should apply directly to the master's program. CS is looking for all kinds of people, including at least some in each class who come from different backgrounds...as long as they can rely on your basic competence through some undergraduate coursework.

AzmayeenRhythm2 karma

How many 'recommendations letters' are ideal to sent ?

2 from teachers and 1 from a mentor will do ?

UR_Jburdick5 karma

3 usually works out well. 2 and 4 are typically ok. 1 is too few and 5+ generally is too many.

yuxuibbs2 karma

Any good stories of what people have written in their essays?

Funniest/most memorable essay?

Is it a good idea to talk about how you have in internship at the university, helped some of the clubs at the university at events, kind of joined one of the clubs at the university even though you don't go to the university, etc in your admissions essay? Would that help/hurt/no affect on the chances of getting in?

(Not applying to the University of Rochester because it's too far away)

I know this is only looking at academics and not any other part of the applicant but my school is on trimesters and I had to switch from calculus BC to calculus AB because I couldn't pass any of my tests. The grading system is 90% tests and 10% homework+other stuff for calculus. Almost all other classes are 80% tests and 20% homework and I have all A's other than 1-3 B's every year. In your opinion, how badly would that affect my chances of getting into one of the bigger public universities in my state (the universities that admit ~16k people every year from a pool of ~40k and has no interview process)?

UR_Jburdick7 karma

Your admissions essay is a slice of stuff we can't get any other way. Don't spend too much time in it writing about things that you can just as easily put on your activities list, like clubs and summer experiences.

Your other question is too complicated for here and my limited time. Ask me again at [email protected] if you like.

Sherryyu2 karma

1)Do you have any plans about going to China for interviewing? 2)Can I select both ED and GEAR at the same time? 3)Do I need to pay extra tuition fees for extra courses? 4)Where can I find stuffs about internship on the website, and could you give me some details about OPT and CPT in Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Science? 5)When can I join internship? Are there any limits for international students?

UR_Jburdick6 karma

I just got back from China. We'll be there again several times each year. 2) yes as long as you know your ED status doesn't guarantee a 'yes' for GEAR. 3) NO--a great feature of Rochester is you can overload to the limit of your ability with not extra charges 4) I'll have to refer you to the websites for now, but AMLater [email protected] if you want. 5) internships can start as soon as you're able to seek and find one you like. No limits for international.

mnk3692 karma

what does a typical business student's 4 years look like? Do they begin taking business courses their freshman year?

UR_Jburdick4 karma

They certainly can. There are some pre-requisites in calculus and economics, and sometimes the preferred accounting, etc. class might be full of upperclassmen, but there's no deliberate prohibition and each year several freshmen will take business courses.

happymille1 karma

What is one thing that really stands out to you on an undergraduate application?

UR_Jburdick8 karma

I'm looking for something individual, unique, one-of-a-kind. That can include being a genuine person who hasn't been corrupted by the college-admission-industrial-complex.

OmegaDekuStick1 karma


UR_Jburdick3 karma

I've enjoyed it but I'm running out of time. Resend me to [email protected] if you want.

we_own_it1 karma

Does every major needs the same requirements? Can foreign students study pre-med in university?

UR_Jburdick4 karma

Once you're here the requirements differ a lot. For admission they differ very little. And yes, foreign students can be pre-med here, as long as they know that admission to American medical schools for foreign students is very limited.

we_own_it1 karma

Is better for students to decide what to study before they come to university or undecided?

UR_Jburdick3 karma

Both are fine. We don't encourage students to 'lock' their major choice until sophomore year anyway.