WOOSTER, Ohio – The College of Wooster officially opened its doors on Sunday to 584 new students – 572 first-years and 12 transfers – an “impressive and humbling” group that is the most diverse in the College’s history, according to Scott Friedhoff, vice president of enrollment and college relations.
The Class of 2021 was selected from approximately 5,700 applicants, a record-shattering 1,167 of which were international (894 was the previous high). Ninety-five such students, or 17 percent of the class, are now enrolled, from as far as 9,600 miles away in Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, and everywhere in between with 27 total countries represented (Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe to name a few). Another 22 percent are U.S. students of color.
“We are so pleased. This is a real enhancement to the experiences all our students get to now have,” Friedhoff said. “We have an off-the-charts international student class coming in. Combine that with our U.S. student of color representation, and wow, we have an incredibly diverse campus.”
The domestic students hail from 36 states, including 31 percent from Ohio, and almost 500 different high schools and international schools.
Where the Class of 2021 comes from, though, is secondary to the impressive array of talents it brings. Academically, about half of the incoming students ranked in the top 10 percent of their graduating high school classes, with more than two dozen being valedictorians or salutatorians. Outside the classroom, one-third are pursuing a spot on a varsity athletics team and another third are interested in Wooster’s thriving arts scene whether it’s joining a musical ensemble and/or being part of a dance or theater performance.
Several students have unique talents. A young man from China has a patent on a solar-powered LED circuit, a young woman from Oregon got an early jump on Independent Study by researching the perceptions of coyotes and their ecological role in urban areas, and another from the Pacific Northwest was the driver of his undefeated robotics team at a world championship competition. There’s a first-year who has already co-authored two articles for the American Archaeology Society, a native of Buffalo who was a world champion in Odyssey of the Mind, a problem-solving program, and another western New Yorker who worked the Bills’ training camp when she wasn’t at international Irish dance competitions.
Many will decide what discipline to pursue during their first couple years, but according to their applications, more than 40 percent plan to study one of the sciences, an expected development with the opening of the $40 million Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Science a year from now.
“That level of interest is not surprising, especially as students can now envision their future learning and doing research in our new life sciences building, one of the finest facilities on a campus like Wooster’s in the nation. Students can see how this is one more reason that we are America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research,” added Friedhoff.