For the class of 2018, Ohio Wesleyan saw a freshmen class of 484 students, nearly 100 lower than the university’s target.
The class of 2016 and 2017 had a freshmen enrollment of 570 and 572 students respectively. Many factors contributed to last year’s dip in enrollment, which are still problematic for recruitment going forward.
“Across the board there is a decrease in the number of high school graduates recently,” Vice President for Enrollment Susan Dileno said. “Additionally there is more competition from other schools, and more students are looking at public universities as well.”
So far deposits are up from this point last year for the incoming class of 2019, but it is still early in the recruitment process and Dileno said things could fluctuate greatly as the May 1 enrollment deposit deadline approaches.
Despite the great challenges on many levels, the university is taking steps to boost enrollment back up towards the 570 number.
According to Dileno, some of the changes in the admissions office have included looking at the way OWU brands itself. The university has hired a group called FastSpot to work on redesigning the school website, and Dileno said that they have also hired a firm named MindPower to help hone in on what exactly it means to be at OWU.
“I have always heard the push for OWU being the ‘opposite of ordinary,’ but never knew quite what that meant,” senior Emily VanNess said.
Working with firms such as MindPower will hopefully help provide a clearer picture of what exactly that slogan means.
One encouraging sign for the upcoming enrollment is the ACT/SAT scores of admitted students. Dileno attributes this to the increased awareness of the university’s test-optional policy. Last year only 100 applicants were test optional, while this year nearly 400 applicants took advantage of going test optional.
“Typically in my experience at other schools we have seen a higher yield from our test-optional admits, but we won’t know for sure until the end of the process,” Dileno said.
In the office of admissions, changes have been made to better engage students when they come to visit. In years past the admissions lobby would often be empty. However this year students have been hired to stay in the lobby and talk to visitors before they tour the rest of the campus.
“I have noticed having these new greeters has really made the office feel warm and opening to prospective students,” senior tour guide Alex Lothstein said. “On top of that I have noticed I’ve had more engaged tours this year as well.”
Dileno emphasized that it is still early in the process and anything could happen; last year’s projections were ahead all year up until April.
“There’s no silver bullet, this will take a lot of planning and resources, but I do feel positive about how it is all coming together to make an impact starting next year,” Dileno said.