By Wendy-Akua Adjei; The Whetstone
When junior Malia Smith came to Wesley in the fall of 2017, the school had three freshman dorms, including Carpenter, Gooding and Williams halls.
Williams and Gooding halls have been closed for two years due to low numbers.
Smith, a resident assistant in Carpenter Hall where she has witnessed first-hand the decline in enrollment and retention, said the numbers were alarming.
“We’re losing a lot of students and it doesn’t sit right with me,” she said. “If you look at the students who came in fall 2017, most of them aren’t here anymore.”
This spring Wesley has only 833 undergraduate full-time undergraduate students, including 213 freshman, 170 sophomores, 201 juniors and 249 seniors. Last fall, the college had 978 full-time undergraduates. Five years ago, in the fall of 2015, the college had 1,455 full-time undergraduates, showing a 57 percent decrease since then.
David Buckingham, vice president of enrollment management, said he was hopeful about future enrollment increasing.
“We are reaching out to approximately 40,000 high school students,” he said. “We are visiting high schools, sending out emails, letters, texting and calling new recruits.”
Admissions has sent out text messages to 700 people, and have sent out hundreds of postcards inviting prospective students to all open houses.
“A target of 345 new students has been set for fall 2020,” said Buckingham.
Last fall, the college enrolled 243 freshmen. Five years ago, in 2015, there were 475 freshmen.
Some current Wesley students said they think more students will come but don’t think they will stay.
“It’s not hard to get students here, it’s just hard to keep them here,” junior Mercy Ariyo, president of Creative Attributions, said. “They need to listen to the concerns of the students that go here now. They act like they care and want to hear our issues, but nothing ever changes.”
Smith said the number of freshmen Wesley gets seems good.
“But even this year, being an RA, I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of my residents at the end of the fall semester,” she said. “Some even leave in the middle of the fall semester.”
Junior D’Shon Sanders said he doesn’t think there will be a lot of new students in the fall.
“I don’t have hope for a huge amount of new students,” the Kinesiology club SGA representative said. “I have one more year left and I’m just trying to keep my head down.”
Senior Lydia LaSure said she doesn’t see much hope for new students.
“I very much doubt a lot of new students will come,” she said. “The quality of the school is really starting to show. Maybe if they dropped the tuition more students would come.”