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Increases Seen in Enrollment

By Jonathan Winchester, Decree Staff Writer

Returning North Carolina Wesleyan students will see 283 new faces this fall. With a haul of 223 freshmen and 60 transfers, new student enrollment increased by 6.4 percent compared to last year. There are now 652 traditional students attending NCWC, resulting in a 2.2 percent increase overall.

Provost Michael Brown is optimistic about the continued growth of Wesleyan’s student population, and would like the traditional program to reach 1,000 students by expanding steadily each year. “We offer a lot of good things for their educational experience,” said Dr. Brown. “We need to continue to renovate, to bring things up to where students would like them to be.”

One factor that may be affecting enrollment at NCWC, or any college or university, is the uncertainty surrounding the economy. Logic would suggest that financial hardships deter educational pursuits, but Dr. Brown disagreed and added, “The economy causes stress for families and students, but seeking higher education leads to better careers and job skills that employers are looking for.”

The total number of residential students is 476, occupying 82.9 percent of the 578-student capacity and leaving 98 total beds available. Residence halls Boddie and Centura, as well as Wesleyan Village, are all at maximum capacity. According to Jessie Langley, associate dean of students, the two female-designated floors in the Nash building have 25 vacant beds, while the newly renovated Edgecombe building has 44. Comparable statistics from previous years were not available.

This year’s class enters with virtually the same academic scores as last year’s. The average SAT combined math and verbal score is up nearly 20 points at 869, but the average GPA dropped from 2.94 last year to 2.92 this year.

North Carolina Wesleyan’s newest students have a similar gender breakdown as the 2012 additions, as the male/female ratio has hovered around 2:1 for the past two years. According to senior Hazel Boomer, the gender ratio is not particularly problematic. “I don’t know, maybe we could advertise more towards women,” said Boomer. “It doesn’t really bother me, but the guys don’t seem to like it.”

Directly affecting the male/female totals is the number of student-athletes. Although exact numbers were not available in late September, Dr. Brown estimated that one-half to two-thirds of the new enrollees are involved in athletics and those figures were typical of the past few years.

Transfer and Campus Visit Coordinator Felicia Lynch was pleased with the 60 transfers, but expressed the need for more focus in that department. When asked if transfer students are underrepresented compared to their peers, Lynch responded, “That’s what we’re trying to change. We’ve also been trying to get a transfer page on the website.” Lynch would like a more aggressive approach in the transfer program. “Transfers are a goldmine,” said Lynch. “We need to tap that resource.”

In addition to the modest gains in enrollment, the international program continues to flourish. The freshman class boasts 26 international students from all over the world. The new students represent Central and South America (11), Africa (4), Europe (6), and Asia (5). Wesleyan’s international program now features 53 international students hailing from 26 nations over 5 continents.

After spending the past year travelling in Europe and teaching English in Slovakia, former NCWC Director of Music Gene Heavner has returned to serve as director of International Student Services. It is his responsibility to help internationals feel at home in a different culture by assisting with language difficulties, as well as basic tasks like banking and shopping. “This freshman class is very outgoing, energetic, and serious about studies,” said Heavner. “They’re open and flexible when facing difficulties and changes.”

While athletics have been a driving force in international recruitment, there is an increase in non-athlete enrollment. Heavner attributes this to word-of-mouth, suggesting “Students go home and tell others about their experience at Wesleyan, and then get others to come.” He would also like to see the program double, if not triple, in the future. “I like having a mix and enjoy the viewpoints of the international students. It’s a positive experience for the school, students, and community.”