OWU appoints new director of admissions

By Jesse Sailer, Sports Editor

Jesse Sailer discusses the future progress of admissions with the new director of admissions, Joshua Stevens:

With the position of director of admissions having been vacant, new hire Joshua Stevens brings hope to Ohio Wesleyan University’s (OWU) declining enrollment as well as a fresh look into the college search process.

After previously serving at Earlham College as director of admissions, Stevens brings with him 15 years of experience in directly working with prospective students and families to help them realize their higher education aspirations.

Sailer: After working as director of admissions at Earlham College, why did you decide to come to OWU?

Stevens: Lots of reasons. I’m excited about the energy on campus at OWU – new athletic programs, housing options,academic majors and scholarship initiatives for students. I think the cultural and commercial environment of the Greater Columbus Region provides OWU students with unique connections to the world outside of college. I appreciate that administration and faculty members across campus seem to be working collaboratively and creatively as the college considers the changing higher education landscape, and I am excited to provide my perspective as a student recruitment professional to those conversations.

Before joining Earlham in 2016, Stevens worked for four years as the senior assistant director of admissions at the University of Colorado, the international admissions counselor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an assistant director of admissions at Lake Forest College in Illinois and an admissions counselor at Transylvania University in Kentucky.

Sailer: What is the most fundamental part of your job as it relates to incoming prospective students?

Stevens: The “most fundamental part of my job” is to supervise and mentor the recruitment team. These admission counselors work most closely with prospective students and families to help guide them through the college search process. It is important that these staff members be prepared do the very best job they can at every stage of the recruitment process so that families have the tools and resources they need to make well-informed choices about college. I think the other visible part of my job is to represent the recruitment team when creating strategic enrollment initiatives. These initiatives include creating digital and print marketing materials, designing on and off-campus recruitment events, building scholarship and financial aid models, reviewing applications, and managing the systems and operations of the office.

As a high school teacher, Stevens took a liking to the admissions process and felt he had a good understanding of what the thought process was of a prospective college student. His love for interacting with people and the idea of working on a college campus fortified his decision to follow the admissions career path.

Sailer: What are your plans to increase enrollment at OWU?

Stevens: Vice president of enrollment and communications, Stefanie Niles is bringing tremendous enrollment management experience to campus. I really look forward to working closely with Stefanie and the full enrollment team to assess current best practices and to develop new strategies to enroll the very best class each year.

Sailer: Is there anything new you’re bringing to the table in the way of altering or adding to the admissions process?

Stevens: There is a strong team of admissions professionals already in place at OWU and I will absolutely rely on the current members of the OWU family to provide me with institutional knowledge. I bring 15 years of admissions experience to the table and a perspective that comes from recruiting students for institutions with many different enrollment goals and challenges. I’m excited to get started

Faculty members are excited about Stevens’ arrival, including Niles.

“I am pleased to welcome Josh to the Ohio Wesleyan enrollment and communications team,” Niles said. “He brings strong experience in aiding prospective students and supporting all facets of the admission process, including implementing technology, managing and mentoring admission counselors, and collaborating with colleagues across campus to reach recruitment goals.”

Students take over OWU’s snapchat

Photo courtesy of owu.edu.
Photo courtesy of owu.edu.

Ela Mazumdar, Transcript Reporter

Snapchat, with its growing popularity, has swept over Ohio Wesleyan’s campus and is telling OWU’s story all over social media.

The account was launched in the summer and gave students who were not on campus a glimpse of Merrick Hall and its renovations.

Initially, the app’s usage underwent a trial period and a few students were asked to try it out to gauge people’s responses.

“I like OWU Snapchat because I think it’s a way to connect with the current student body and encourage pride in our campus,” said senior Venessa Menerey.

Senior Julia Stone, who runs the OWU Snapchat, said it was challenging at first because she was unsure of what to include.

“Luckily, my friends were full of good ideas such as footage from an open mic at Choffey’s or the opening of an art show in Edgar Hall,” Stone said.

Stone said she enjoyed the experience because it forced her to get out of the comfort of her room and to “seek out adventure, fun and excitement at OWU during homework breaks.”

Since the initial trial period, the “My Story” feature on Snapchat has gotten about 140 viewers. Jessica Vogel, the student social media intern at the communications office, said she hopes this number will grow with time.

Students have used Snapchat for seven days to actively tell the OWU story and give a clear depiction of some of the events that happen on campus on a regular basis.

The mission of the weekly takeover is “to be flexible as we explore the best way for students to share their ‘My Story’ with classmates and future students,” Vogel said. “We want to create a program that is more than just a ‘take-over Tuesday.’ We want to see a real week in the life of an OWU student.”

The OWU Snapchat has one intention with this new social media account.

“The main goal of the account is to spread a sense of community and reach out to prospective students in a way that is authentic and fun,” Vogel said.

So far, some of the users of the account include Nicole Sanczyk, Stone and Emily Feldmesser, the chair of public relations during Mock Convention.

Lacrosse players also used the app to show what athletes on campus experience regularly. To add OWU’s Snapchat account, download Snapchat and add the account ohiowesleyan.

Admissions office seeks benefits, changes deadlines

By: Ross Hickenbottom, Transcript Reporter

No more rolling deadlines, you say?

Ohio Wesleyan prospects, beginning with the class of 2020, will now have a new periodic deadline system to guide them with their college decisions.

Prior to the change, according to the OWU Admissions “Important Deadlines” section on the website, November 15 and 30, January 15 and 30, February 15, March 1, April 1 and May 1 were all listed as deadlines or notification dates, but a few are going to see changes.

The Ohio Wesleyan Admissions department has changed the admissions deadlines from having four deadlines, which were Early Decision in November; two Early Action deadlines, one in November and another in January; and a Regular Decision deadline in March. The Early Action deadline in November has been eliminated and the Early Action II in January has been kept. The Early Decision and Regular deadlines were not changed at all.

Susan Dileno, OWU Vice President for Enrollment Management, who replaced Interim VP for Enrollment Dave Wottle in August of  last year, and the Admissions Department representatives said that while reviewing other private schools’ deadlines, particularly those in the Great Lakes College Association, they were “hard­pressed to find a school with two early deadlines.”

Dileno said more typical is one of the two following scenarios: two Early Decisions and a Regular Decision deadline, or Early Decision, Early Action and Regular Decisions implemented.

She said OWU’s deadlines were out of norm, and she “felt it could be confusing to prospects and guidance counselors” of those prospects.

The benefit of the Admissions department eliminating the November Early Action date is that it provided an extra incentive for students to apply Early Decision if they wanted to get their decisions in November. In previous years, they could apply Early Decision or Early Action and learn of the decision in November under either plan.

“We did see a bump in our ED applications this year, so that is an added plus to OWU, since ED students are committing to attend if admitted,” Dileno said.

“I also think the later EA (Early Action) date serves our applicants well in that many students don’t find out about OWU until their senior year, and the later date gives them additional time to apply, while still giving them an option to learn of their decision before March,” she added.

Changes made to admissions process

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.