Applications for Admission Soar Past 5,000 for the First Time in History

Recognition of The College of Wooster’s value a key factor in the increase

February 27, 2012 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Despite a sluggish economy and a shrinking demographic of high school seniors, The College of Wooster is experiencing a record year for undergraduate applications for admission. On Feb. 17, Wooster eclipsed the 5,000 mark for the first time in the institution’s 143-year history, and now stands at more than 5,100 applications. This total surpasses the previous record of 4,893 set last year, and more than doubles the mark of a decade ago (2,392 in 2002).

While several factors appear to be driving the increase, Scott Friedhoff, vice president for enrollment and college relations, believes that the primary reason is the overall quality of a Wooster education. “In a challenging economy, people tend to pay particular attention to value,” says Friedhoff. “Our current students and their parents understand the value-added component of a Wooster education and are telling that story broadly.”

What constituents find particularly appealing is the caliber of Wooster’s faculty and its emphasis on undergraduate research, highlighted by its nationally renowned Independent Study program, through which students create an original research project, written work, performance, or exhibit of artwork, supported one-on-one by a faculty mentor. “They appreciate the benefits of attending the nation’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research,” says Friedhoff.

Social media and websites have helped to spread the good news about Wooster like never before, according to Friedhoff. “It’s become the newest form of ‘word-of-mouth,’” he says. “Our graduates are having great success, and they are sharing information about their achievements with others on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. Likewise, current students and parents are sharing their experiences on sites like Cappex, College Confidential, and College Prowler.”

Wooster’s gains on applications have been distributed across the country and around the world, but the most significant spike has taken place in Ohio, where applications are up an astounding 22 percent.

The bottom line is that Wooster has maintained an unwavering commitment to its core mission and has refused to buy into the academic flavor of the month. “People are recognizing the short- and long-term return that a premier liberal arts education provides,” says Friedhoff, “and the more they get to know us, the more they like us.”