The “Sandusky Effect” Hits Penn State

January 31, 2012


Is the lion going to get a little lonely in Happy Valley?

If you were a high school senior – or the parent of a high school senior – would Penn State be at the top of your list right now?

As a student, it would certainly seem to take off some of the luster. Who wants to hear about Jerry Sandusky all of the time?

As a parent, did the university – and subsequently its supporters – present Penn State as a place you would want to entrust with the well-being of your 18-year-old child?

The Wall Street Journal says it is having an impact:

Winning acceptance to Penn State hasn’t exactly made Maddie Beja the envy of her suburban Chicago high school.

Instead of being congratulated on Penn State’s stellar academics, Beja is hearing all about the sex-abuse scandal that brought down the university’s president and football coach in November. “The reputation of (Penn State) has taken such a hit lately,” said Beja, president of the senior class at Hinsdale Central High School, adding that the sex-abuse scandal is a strike against Penn State as she weighs her other options.


“After hearing all the details I was really shocked,” said Audrey Gray, a high-school senior in Mishawaka, Ind., who said she is no longer so excited about having been accepted at Penn State. “I fear that if I went there next year my experience would not be as good as it would have been before the scandal.”

That’s just anecdotal, you say? Well …

So far, nonresident students represent only 24% of Penn State’s total paid acceptances for next fall’s freshman class. That’s down from 36% at this point last year. The 24% for out-of-state students “is not the final count,” said Lisa Powers, a PSU spokeswoman.

The “Sandusky effect” may also be contributing to the university’s decision to offer places to more students than usual. A Penn State spokeswoman said last week the university had offered 4,133 more acceptance letters for all Penn State campuses at that point in the admissions cycle than it had the year before. Total paid acceptances from students are flat, up by six students, the spokeswoman said.

As the Journal notes, out-of-state enrollment is important to Penn State because the university receives just 6 percent of revenues from the state legislature (comparatively low). Out-of-state tuition is $28,000 a year, while it is $16,000 for Pennsylvania residents.


About Tony

Founder of Ball Eight.

View all posts by Tony

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