WOOSTER, Ohio – College admissions offices nationwide are feeling the effects of the government’s proposed new immigration policies, as mounting concerns and fear from international students about coming to the United States have resulted in a decrease in foreign applications, according to a survey by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. However, that is not the case at The College of Wooster. Quite the opposite actually.
Wooster has received more than 1,000 applications from international students – a record 1,080 to be exact, which represents a 27% increase over last year’s record number. In fact, 20% of the total applicant pool are international students. So, why has Wooster been able to buck this trend?
Reon Sines-Sheaff, in her third year as the College’s director of international admissions, credits Wooster’s success rate to a number of factors, the three most important being a focus on mentored student research, an intentional strategy to focus on a diversity of prospective students within the international cohort, and a strong support system through the Office of International Student Affairs that is committed to their success.
For years, students – both domestic and international – have been attracted to Wooster’s nationally-renowned Independent Study (I.S.) program, in which every student works one-on-one with a faculty adviser to conceive, organize, and complete an original research project, written work, performance, or art exhibit. International students are referencing the value of this experience more and more as reasons they are applying to Wooster. They recognize how important it is to develop the skills to be able to do something that has never been done before.
“When I found (a) formula to calculate (the) length of diagonal of any regular polygon (at) Singapore Mathematics Project Festival in 2015, I started to love solving a problem through research. I can’t wait to join Wooster’s exclusive senior project where I can again explore areas of my interest, conduct research, deepen my understanding towards real-world issues, and propose solutions,” stated an incoming student from China.
There are 40 countries represented in Wooster’s current student body, and 90 represented in the applicant pool of 1,080, and joining a campus where there is so much diversity is attractive to prospective international students, according to Sines-Sheaff. “We have made a conscious effort to diversify our recruitment strategy. We’re present in a lot of those countries that are represented … across southeast Asia and really throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe. I’m glad we have so many different countries we work with. It allows us to have a presence around the world, not just one region.”
Once international students come to campus, they are met by a staff that helps them get through orientation, first-year seminar, and adjust to a new culture. Later in their college career, assistance may be provided when it comes to applying for fellowship grants or pursuing any number of ideas, all to set them up for success.
Add in, a picturesque campus environment where the differences among students are embraced and a safe, yet vibrant local community, and it becomes more and more obvious why Wooster continues to be a popular choice for international students.