As the fall semester begins, the Ohio Wesleyan University community is smaller than expected. Enrollment is down for this year’s freshman class, and is the lowest it has been in the past five years.
The university’s goal is to have around 600 incoming freshmen every year. OWU generally meets this goal — according to a Fall 2014 Admissions report, the past two years have had 586 and 589 respectively. However, this year there are 490 incoming freshmen.
Why the drastic drop-off? Vice President for Enrollment Susan Dileno said to a certain extent, there is only so much the university can do.
“There are several dynamics working against us that unfortunately we can’t control,” Dileno said. “Nationally the number of 18-year-old students is on the decline. Additionally, Ohio and other states nearby us are experiencing a big decline, so just maintaining is hard. We have found that public instititutions are rising in strength, and the price of education is high.”
Despite the low enrollment, the class of 2018 boasts remarkable strengths. Representing 17 countries and 33 states, the class of 2018 already boasts a broad list of achievements. From an extra in the movie “Divergent,” to a competitor in the World Irish dance competition, talents and hobbies are diverse among the freshmen.
In terms of academic demographic, the class of 2018 is consistent with the past five years. Contrary to the popular rumor that GPAs of incoming freshmen are declining, not much has actually changed. According to an admissions report from this fall, the high school GPA for the class of 2018 is a 3.4 average. This class shares the same average GPA with all but the class of 2016, which had a 3.5.
“Our applicant and admit pool hasn’t really changed that much,” Dileno said. “But at the end of the day, it is impossible for us to control who does or does not enroll.
For Residential Life, this year’s lower enrollment gives some flexibility.
“We now have more spaces then students,” said Meredith Dixon, assistant director of Residential Life. “We want to use that to help accommodate students in a way that normally we wouldn’t be able to.”
For Admissions, while it is disappointing not to meet their enrollment goals, Dileno expressed high hopes for the future of this year’s class.
“Even though the numbers are low, we admitted students who bring their talent and passion to the university and promise to contribute in significant ways.”