By Rahim Harris, Kai Lee II and Lydia LaSure; The Whetstone

Freshman Hanna Giaccone chose Wesley College because it was close to her home in Ventnor, N.J.

“When choosing a school, I knew I wanted to be close to my two little sisters,” she said. “Wesley College stood out to me because it was only a 2-hour drive from my home in Ventnor.”

Like Giaccone, many other students come to Wesley because of how close it is to home.

Wesley College’s recruitment strategy consists in part of getting students who want to be close to home to attend the school.

Delaware is surrounded by New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania, which also are the top three states students come from who attend Wesley.

Wesley isn’t the only school that has such a strategy.

How far one lives from college plays a major role in a student’s decision to attend, according to a study by the American Council on Education.

Associate Director of Admissions Christopher Jester said that is Wesley’s strategy.

“The ideal regions we focus on for potential students is the MidAtlantic area, because most students do not want to attend a school that is far away from home,” he said. “Wesley is a comfortable distance for students being that Delaware is close to those states.”

After geography, the next thing checked is potential students’ academic standing.

“We review recommendation letters, transcripts and the participation of extra-curricular activities,” he said. “Once the student is accepted, we give them a package of how much scholarship money they can get.”

The geographical location of a potential student also is a factor used by Wesley athletic department.

“We watch people play first and study them for a long time,” Tracey Short, director of athletics and field hockey coach, said. “We travel to summer league games, club games, and recreational games.”

Short favors players from the mid-Atlantic region because that also happens to be where the top field hockey players are.

“Close proximity to the homes of these athletes is a major advantage Wesley has over the other schools that recruit them,” she said. “I use that to my best ability.”

Football coach Chip Knapp said football recruitment is intense.

“For football coaches it’s very competitive, competing with other coaches for students,” he said.

“We get the names of players, study their film and we discuss among coaches,” he said. “Then we go to the high schools and visit in the area spreading more awareness about our program as well as the College.”

Football is the most successful sports program of the school, earning playoff berths for the past 10 years and winning the ECAC Bowl this past season.

“Once a student shows interest, we apply full pressure to get them to attend Wesley,” he said. “We show them that once you’re a Wolverine you’re family.”

Knapp and his staff of coaches tend to focus on certain areas where there are high schools with winning traditions.

“Every player cannot go to a big time D1 school, so I tell them about the Wesley experience, which is a small campus but with a family atmosphere and winning tradition,” he said.

Football’s yearly goal for recruitment is 125 students.

Freshman David Pierre, from Carteret, N.J., was recruited thanks in part to the film of his high school play he provided to the school. He also wanted to go to a small school close to home.

“My football coach went to Wesley, so he pulled some strings and made a few calls and here I am,” he said.

Senior Nick Glove attended Dover High School.

“They told me they saw my football highlights and they mentioned I would be a good fit in their program,” he said. “Coach Drass came to my high school at Dover High to recruit me personally. They offered me $11,000 for my academic scholarship.”

In some cases, students make recruiting easy for the school by expressing interest and staying in touch with the admissions office and the coaches.

“I was recruited to play softball for Wesley,” junior Brooke Retkowski said. “I reached out to Coach Greep after receiving a call from Wesley’s Admissions office because I was on their interest list for my academics.”

Greep came out to see Retkowski play, she said.

“Then I came to the softball camp here in November of 2015 where I officially committed to come and play after camp was over.”

Brooke Retkowski

The admissions office provides an “interest list” to Wesley’s academic departments and some of the Chairs help recruit.

“Admissions sometimes gives us a list of students who meet the academic requirements of the college and we make sure we have someone representing us at Open House to show students what were all about,” Charlisa Edelin, Chair of Law and Justice Studies, said.

During February’s Open House, more than 50 families attended.

“Open house in the spring is pivotal in the recruitment process because it’s the first and last impression we have to make on the students and their families,” Jester said.