The College of Wooster Strengthens its Ties with India

Relationship provides strong pool of prospective students and internship opportunities for current undergraduates

January 28, 2013 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster reached out to an old friend earlier this month when it sent two representatives to India to reconnect with alumni and parents while establishing new relationships with high school counselors and prospective students.

Scott Friedhoff, vice president for enrollment and college relations, and Shila Garg, professor of physics and former dean of faculty and provost, spent two weeks building on an association that began decades ago when Presbyterian missionaries in India started sending their children to Wooster for a comprehensive liberal-arts education. Today, close to 100 Wooster alumni live and work in India.

Friedhoff and Garg called on high schools, met with alumni, and chatted with parents of current students during their two-week sojourn. “We went to more than a dozen schools and made some good connections with high school counselors,” says Friedhoff. “We also spoke directly with the entire junior class at some schools.”

The visit by Friedhoff and Garg followed a similar one by Wooster President Grant Cornwell two years ago that continues to pay dividends. Wooster currently enrolls 24 students from India, and Friedhoff says that the College would like to increase that number.

“Our enrollment has had an international population of about seven or eight percent during the past few years,” says Friedhoff. "I would like to see that increase to 10 percent, further expanding our global reach."

Another reason for making periodic trips to India is that country’s diversity. “There is value in recruiting from the diverse regions of India, just as there is value in recruiting from different states in the U.S.,” says Friedhoff. “We are also pursuing other opportunities, including internships for our students with businesses and corporations in India.”

The internships are cutting edge, according to Friedhoff. Most are paid positions with stipends for room and board. “I don’t know that any other college is doing this,” says Friedhoff. “We had one student participate last year and several others are applying for internships this summer. These opportunities will give students a foot in the door when they begin to apply for fulltime employment.”

Wooster’s relationship with India also gives the College an attractive pool of prospective applicants at a time when the numbers of domestic high school students are declining. “The fact that we have had a relationship (with India) for a long time gives us a significant advantage,” says Friedhoff. “We are hoping to leverage that advantage as part of our enrollment strategy.”