WOOSTER, Ohio – The College of Wooster has taken another significant step in becoming a “truly global campus,” said Reon Sines-Sheaff, in her fourth year as the director of international admissions, while announcing a record-setting incoming class of international students for the third year in a row.
Wooster is set to welcome 110 international students to the Class of 2022, bettering last year’s record of 91, and that group comprises almost 20 percent of the total first-year class (570).
Those 110 enrollees started from 1,600 international applicants (yes, another record), a 40 percent increase over last year, which followed a 31 percent jump from the previous year.
“I am grateful to be part of such a vibrant, flourishing, and international community of learners, and grateful to all those who choose to come to Wooster from around the world. Our diversity of national origins and cultural perspectives is one of our greatest strengths,” stated Wooster president Sarah Bolton.
These back-to-back-to-back record-setting international classes fly in the face of what many U.S. college and university admissions offices are encountering. According to a survey of nearly 500 U.S. institutions by the Institute of International Education, the number of newly arriving international students declined an average of 7 percent in fall 2017, and higher ed experts expect an even greater drop when fall 2018 numbers become available.
And, maybe the most impressive statistic – there are 35 countries represented in Wooster’s Class of 2022, hitting just about every area of the globe with students from Sudan, Georgia, Uruguay, Israel, and Mongolia to name a few. It has been an intentional strategy to be diverse geographically that is paying off, now with 56 countries represented among the total student enrollment (2,000).
“We see so many schools having the majority of students from one country, sometimes China, sometimes India,” said Sines-Sheaff. “We, at Wooster, are really pleased with the fact that our students represent 35 countries in this incoming class and no more than a fifth are from one country. It gives all of our students a look at a truly global campus.”
That sense can be felt within most every academic program, as Wooster’s international student body is interested in a variety of areas of study. Among the upperclassmen, about 25 percent are majoring in computer science or mathematics, 20 percent in one of the sciences, another 15 percent in economics or business economics, but there’s also 30 percent majoring in the humanities or social sciences.
“Wooster’s international students have been very successful in the sciences, going on to research at some of the best hospitals and universities in the U.S. … and similarly, there are great success stories in computer science, software engineering, but it’s also important to note those studying in the arts and humanities have gone on to exciting and fulfilling careers, so it adds another layer of diversity,” remarked Sines-Sheaff. “Our students may walk into a computer classroom filled with students from around the world, and they’ll also get the same experience in an art classroom.”
So, how has Wooster, located in a small northeast Ohio city surrounded by farms, become a global campus? Well, the reasons behind its success are numerous.
One is a passionate alumni base that can be found all over the world and is eager to talk up Wooster at college fairs and international interview days. Of course, the alumni illuminate Wooster’s biggest draw – rigorous academics featuring mentored research, which culminates in Independent Study – a concept that goes over well with international students, according to Sines-Sheaff. “(They) are excited about the idea of research, but they’re more excited about the opportunity to research any topic they want,” she said.
Another big plus is Wooster’s inviting, picturesque, and safe campus, which includes the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, where international students have the support of a devoted staff, paired with the city of Wooster, a thriving and vibrant community. “Our campus being surrounded by a micropolitan area is a huge benefit. Students aren’t leaving to go home on weekends. They get to experience all of the social aspects here, the fun traditions, and the opportunity to get to really know your professors. I really think there are a number of experiences that can’t be replicated on an urban campus,” said Sines-Sheaff.
Not to be overlooked, Wooster has a long tradition of welcoming international students, thus this is not a one-year flash in the pan in a desperate attempt to boost enrollment revenue. Instead, it’s the culmination of years of developing a distinguished reputation worldwide and providing outstanding academics within a genuinely supportive atmosphere that has resulted in what is now a “truly global campus.”