By Brian Cook
No matter what the class of 2017 ends up achieving, it has already made history at Ohio Wesleyan.
According to Rebecca Eckstein, vice-president of Enrollment and Strategic Communication, this year’s incoming class is more diverse than any of its predecessors.
“We are proud that this freshman class has the highest percentage of ethnic domestic diversity in the history of the university and we have increased our international enrollment over last year,” Eckstein said. “However, to us, diversity extends beyond race.”
Eckstein said the freshman class ranks near the previous class academically, although one statistic for evaluating an incoming class was not provided due to its decreasing popularity among high schools.
“Since the majority of high schools no longer rank its students, GPA is a better measurement,” Eckstein said. “This class average is a 3.4 while the previous class average was a 3.5, while the average ACT of 25 remained unchanged.”
In the Sept. 16 faculty meeting, University President Rock Jones said the current freshman class’s academic profile is less competitive overall than that of the current sophomore class. In addition to a lower average GPA, the former has a lower average SAT score than the latter.
In terms of enrollment, Eckstein said OWU has set itself up well for the future financially and educationally.
“The target number for all U.S. and international freshman as well as transfer students was 590,” she said. “We have enrolled 572, which is the second consecutive year that OWU has enrolled a class with an increase in net revenue, which enhances the budget for all educational purposes.”
However, Eckstein said OWU isn’t looking to drastically increase its enrollment because of its desire to educate students in a small-school environment.
“OWU is committed to providing a liberal arts education in a small, residential community,” she said. “Residence Life is currently at 99% occupancy so I expect the size of future classes to remain approximately the same.”
Eckstein said the freshman class “carries the same philanthropic spirit and desire for service as previous classes,” but acknowledged there is no official way to quantify this because the Common Application does not require students to record a specific number of service hours.
Freshman Liam Keller said he enjoys the diversity in culture, something he didn’t experience much in high school.
“Coming to OWU was a breath of fresh air because I can experience so many different cultures and lifestyles,” he said.
Freshman Ashley McAdam said OWU is much more diverse than her high school even though the two have the same number of students.
Keller said he also appreciates the “family sense” that’s present at OWU.
“In my high school everybody stuck to their group and didn’t stray from that path,” he said. “At OWU there are so many groups and clubs to be a part of that you end up meeting a variety of people and get to immerse yourself in different groups and activities no matter what your background is.”
Keller said the programs set up to help students succeed at the university could use some improvement.
“There was a lot of information that had been given in our groups by our Orientation Leaders that was then given again at unnecessary information sessions,” he said. “I think that the Orientation Leaders did a fantastic job giving us strategies to help us succeed, but many people were driven away from the meetings because they were long and repetitive.”
McAdam, however, said she felt the university did a good job of preparing incoming students during Orientation and StART to handle the OWU experience.
“I have friends back home that didn’t have the same kind of programs and as soon as classes started they were totally stressed out,” she said.
McAdam said coming to OWU was not something she wanted to do initially, but eventually came to appreciate what the university had to offer.
“Well, my mom wanted me to go here, but I was pretty against it for the longest time, and then I found out they offered a major in genetics and we came up to visit and I fell in love with it,” she said.“I just kind of knew it was the right place for me.”