Cincinnati Decision Day arrives with record numbers and Bearcat surprises

UC hand-delivers select admission letters as part of Feb. 5 reveal day for class of 2021

As UC reached Cincinnati Decision Day on Feb. 5 — when thousands of students found out if they’ve been admitted to the university to pursue their studies — the numbers reveal that the institution is more popular than ever. To date, a record 24,210 first-year students have applied to UC’s Uptown campus. That’s an increase of more than 1,850 applicants or 8% more than last year (the previous record).

Grayson Mentzel opens the door and reacts as the UC Decision Day surprise team congratulates her.

Grayson Mentzel, a Walnut Hills High School senior, became the very first person in the class of 2021 to find out she has been admitted to the University of Cincinnati. This was the moment of surprise when she opened the door to find the Bearcat mascot and UC officials congratulating her. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

This news comes on the heels of UC announcing record enrollment for the eighth straight year in the fall when Bearcats numbered 46,798. Based on current numbers, UC officials expect to eclipse 48,000 in fall 2021.

Jack Miner, UC’s vice provost for enrollment management, says UC’s popularity is even more remarkable given the COVID-19 pandemic and state and national trends where the majority of colleges and universities are experiencing significant enrollment declines.

“Where others are struggling to maintain enrollment, it looks like we are going to be able to grow pretty significantly,” says Miner. “We think we’re getting such a great application pool because of our strong academic profile, our phenomenal student life experiences and because people really love the idea of being on UC’s urban campus. We are doing all we can to ensure a healthier, safer and good experience in the fall.”

Those who applied by the Dec. 1 Early Action Deadline will found out at 5 p.m. (EST) Feb. 5 if they had been offered admission. Those who applied after Dec. 1 and those who continue to apply will receive admission decisions on a rolling basis each Friday after Cincinnati Decision Day.

Bearcat mascot steps off a UC shuttle holding giant U C balloons.

The UC Bearcat steps off the UC shuttle carrying giant balloons as part of the first Decision Day surprise. Two additional students received the same treatment on Friday, Feb. 5 as part of UC's Decision Day. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

A group photo on the porch of a UC student who just found out she will be attending UC in the Fall of 2021.

Grayson Mentzel found out on Thursday, Feb. 4 that she was not only admitted to UC, but she would be a part of the Lindner Business Honors program and would be receiving a $2,000 UC Grant, too. Joining her on the porch are Marianne Lewis, dean of the Lindner College of Business, Jack Miner, vice provost for enrollment management, and the Bearcat. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Surprise! You’re a Bearcat

For a few lucky future Bearcats, the news that they will be studying on UC’s destination campus in the fall of 2021 arrived when the university’s Decision Day surprise team rolled up to their school or driveway. Those students can received a socially distanced and masked visit from a few UC VIPs including Miner and the Bearcat mascot.


Grayson Mentzel, a senior at Walnut Hills High School, was the very first UC applicant to get an official admission letter from UC on Feb. 4, when Miner, the Bearcat and Marianne Lewis, dean of UC’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, paid a surprise visit to her family’s East Walnut Hills home.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/Mng2KANmHZ0?rel=0

"This is amazing," says Grayson, who teared up when she opened the door. "No other college obviously has gone to this much length. It is very surprising and exciting. I’ve lived here my whole life, so UC is a big part of our family. It is so humbling."

Grayson's mom Kate Burroughs said seeing their daughter get the "rockstar treatment" from UC was incredibly special for their family.

"This is awesome," says Burroughs. "It is so wonderful to see her celebrated for just the hard work that she has put in over the last six years. She's known she wanted to go to business school since she could think about college, and the UC program is all she's talked about for two years."

Dean Lewis was able to share with Mentzel not just that she was admitted into her first-choice major (marketing), but that she has also been invited to be a part of the Lindner Business Honors program, a highly selective academic community that allows students hands-on, real-world learning opportunities such as the ability to intern, co-op, network and study abroad.

"It was wonderful to see Grayson's excitement and surprise," says Dean Lewis. "We have a variety of honors opportunities for students that really accelerate their experiential learning as well as their academic learning, and given the headstart that Grayson has, she's a perfect fit. We look forward to helping her make the most of all of her UC opportunities."

Moments that matter

Jack Miner, UC vice provost for enrollment management, speaks with media outside the Mentzel home to explain why UC is celebrating Decision Day with in-person visits.

Jack Miner, UC vice provost for enrollment management, speaks with media outside the Mentzel home to explain why UC is celebrating Decision Day with in-person visits. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Miner, who started at UC in January of 2020, is thrilled to begin celebrating Decision Day and other moments that matter to incoming students.



“These Decision Day surprises are going to be a really neat opportunity,” says Miner. “Decision Day is always exciting, but this year we have picked a small number of students who we are surprising in person.”

Miner says the idea is one more way for the two-century-old university to give back to the community that founded it.



“We are a university that really values our relationship to Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public Schools and all the surrounding schools in the region,” he says. We are a national research university, but we’re also still the hometown school.”

We are a university that really values our relationship to Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public Schools and all the surrounding schools in the region. We are a national research university, but we’re also still the hometown school.

Jack Miner, vice provost for enrollment management

Dean Marianne Lewis elbow bumps Grayson Mentzel

UC Lindner College of Business Dean Marianne Lewis elbow bumps Grayson Mentzel, a future Linder Business Honors student. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Most diverse in history

In addition to the record number of applicants, the university is also celebrating its most diverse class of applicants in history. Among the numbers, UC is seeing a 24% increase in applicants offered admission who are African American and a 19% increase in applicants offered admission who are Hispanic.

“We are coming off our most diverse student population we’ve ever had at UC where nearly 25% of our students were minorities,” says Miner. “This fall we could very likely once again have our most diverse makeup in our 202-year history. And what is great is that it is not just racial diversity. It’s also the number of first-generation students we are seeing. We’re trying to grow the number of people in the Cincinnati area with a college degree. So it is not just about us, it’s really about the larger community.”

Beyond Cincinnati, UC is also seeing high water marks for the number of out-of-state and international students who are applying.

From West Africa to CPS to UC

Mohamed Camara exits Aiken High School

Mohamed Camara exits Aiken High School to find a huge crowd of his supporters congratulating him on being admitted to UC. To his left is Lisa Votaw, principal at Aiken. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Mohamed Camara had no idea UC’s Decision Day surprise team would be rolling up to Aiken High School at 8 a.m. Friday. Walking outside the doors of the Cincinnati Public School, he was greeted with a roar of cheers and smiles from Aiken administrators, staff and teachers who have gotten to know him since he immigrated to the U.S. from West Africa (Mali) a couple of years ago.

Camara learned from Vice Provost Miner that he had been admitted into UC’s international affairs program in the UC College of Arts and Sciences and would be receiving a $2,000 grant to help with expenses. The 18-year-old is a first-generation college student who one day hopes to represent his country’s interests abroad and help others go through the immigration process.

“This young man deserves all the accolades and the opportunities in the world,” says Lisa Votaw, Aiken principal. “He’s a delightful human being, and he works very hard. It is great to keep him in the city. We try to help raise these kids and teach them all that we can, and then they fly. And that is what it is all about.”

 

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/7_qpyCwspGU?rel=0
We try to help raise these kids and teach them all that we can, and then they fly. And that is what it is all about.

Lisa Votaw, Aiken High School principal

Mohamed Camara holds up his admission letter and $2,000 UC grant.

Mohamed Camara removes his mask for a moment and holds up his admission letter and $2,000 grant from UC. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand.

Aaron Parker, Mohamed Camara, the Bearcat, Jack Miner and Lisa Votaw pose outside Aiken High School.

Mohamed Camara and the Bearcat show off his admission letter from UC. At far left is Aaron Parker, Mohamed's English as a Second Language teacher at Aiken. At right is Jack Miner, vice provost for enrollment management, and Lisa Votaw, Aiken principal.

Lisa Votaw applauds

Aiken Principal Lisa Votaw applauds Mohamed Camara's news. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Mohamed Camara interviewed outside of Aiken High School

Mohamed Camara never expected to be interviewed outside of his high school when he got ready for the day. He beamed with pride and thankfulness at the opportunity to become a UC Bearcat, where he'll study international affairs in the UC College of Arts and Sciences. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Another UC nurse in the family

Alex Lewis and school administrators walk out of Roger Bacon High School together.

Alex Lewis was worried she was in trouble when Roger Bacon High School Principal Steve Schad (at right) pulled her out of class at the end of her school day on Friday. This was the moment the senior left her school to discover she was UC's third and final Decision Day surprise visit. She'll start at UC's College of Nursing this fall. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

It has been a lifelong dream for Alex Lewis to one day follow in her mother’s footsteps. Just like her mom, Sherri Lewis, Alex hoped to attend the UC College of Nursing and one day become a nurse.

As Decision Day arrived February 5, she couldn’t stop thinking about 5 p.m., when more than 24,000 UC applicants would discover if they had been admitted for the fall. For Alex, however, the news came a few hours earlier in the form of an enormous surprise.

Alex and Sherri Lewis hug on the steps of Roger Bacon High School

Alex Lewis discovered that she would, indeed, follow in her mom's footsteps when she starts at UC this fall. The two shared a long powerful hug on the steps of Roger Bacon High School, where both also attended high school. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

She was completely in the dark that UC had reached out to her mom to set up a huge reveal on the front steps of Roger Bacon High School with her classmates peering out the windows.

“I’m over the moon,” Sherri said, as she waited for the school to walk her daughter out the front doors. “I can’t stand it at this point. I’ve kept this secret for almost a week now. I am ecstatic for her to be a Bearcat just like me. I mean this is bigger than any signing day that I’ve ever seen. It is a huge moment.”

Indeed it was a huge moment as Alex walked out to learn from Vice Provost Miner that she had not only been accepted into the UC College of Nursing, but she also had been awarded a $2,000 grant.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/DwU9GeSmKe4?rel=0
Alex Lewis holds up her new UC College of Nursing shirt,

Alex Lewis holds up her new UC College of Nursing shirt, which was only part of a large swag bag of UC gear. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Alex Lewis with a groups of Cincinnati Police Officers.

The Cincinnati Police are enormously important to the Lewis family. Alex's late grandfather was a Cincinnati Police officer, and she served in the cadet program learning from the officers pictured here, who came to support her. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Alex and her mother greets members of the media

Alex and her mother speak with members of the media and others outside of Roger Bacon High School. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

x

Outside of Roger Bacon High School are (from left) Steve Schad, Roger Bacon Principal; Justin Veigel, director of admissions for the UC College of Nursing; Sherri Lewis; Alex Lewis; the Bearcat and Jack Miner, UC vice provost for enrollment management. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

“It makes me really happy that all of you are here to support me,” says Alex. “I’m very happy right now, just speechless.”

Mom soon joined her in front of the cameras, and the two embraced with a massive hug.

“My mom has been very, very important in my life, and I want to be just like her when I grow up. There is a long legacy of nursing in my family, and I’m just very proud.”

Where do they come from?

Aerial photo of UC's campus.

UC officials expect a record number of students to arrive on campus in Fall 2021.

Top 10 States

  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • California
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Texas

Top 5 Countries (outside of U.S.)

  • India
  • Vietnam
  • United Arab Emirates
  • China
  • Pakistan

A Bearcat Promise

New students at UC will benefit from the new Bearcat Promise UC introduced in 2019. Bearcat Promise is an innovative academic and professional development program designed to help students design a customized pathway to their ideal future. Instituted as a crucial piece of UC's new strategic direction, known as Next Lives Here, Bearcat Promise represents a philosophical shift and commitment by the university to all students that they will graduate with a degree in one hand and a career plan in the other.

UC waives SAT/ACT requirements

Last May UC announced a test-optional admissions policy for a two-year period as a result of significant disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The move means that students entering UC in fall 2021 and 2022 will not be required to submit standardized test scores from the ACT or SAT to gain admission to the vast majority of programs. Though a few select programs will still require a standardized test, most applicants will be able to choose whether or not to submit scores to be considered as part of UC’s holistic admissions review model. Applications are read by admission team members, who are trained to use application information — both academic and personal — to more fully understand who the applicant is, how likely they are to be academically successful and what attributes the student will bring to the campus community.

Note: The above application and admissions offer figures do not include UC's top-ranked College-Conservatory of Music, which will share admission decisions no later than March.

Featured image at top: Mohamed Camara receives a surprise visit to Aiken High School from Jack Miner, UC vice provost for enrollment management, who shared his admission news. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Still time to apply

Opportunities for admission are still available in select Uptown programs until March 1. In addition, UC's regional campuses — UC Blue Ash College and UC Clermont College — accept applications on a rolling basis until July 1.

Apply online or get more information about undergraduate enrollment by calling (513) 556-1100.