College: College of Wooster
Location: Wooster, OH (a small city approximately 1 hour from Cleveland)
Type of Institution: Private liberal arts college
Size: Approximately 2,000 undergraduates
Admissions Advice: College of Wooster has an incredibly holistic review process and a small (and wonderfully) supportive admissions office that is ready to work with students throughout their application journey. While the majority of applicants have strong academics (3.5+ GPA), this is a college that is willing to take a chance on “good fit” students who show promise or have a story behind their grade trend. Essays, interviews, and letters of recommendation are very useful in the process. Additionally, Wooster is generous with merit scholarships. I’ve routinely seen awards in the $15,000-25,000+ per year range.
Most popular majors: Psychology, History, Political Science, English, Chemistry
Words to describe students I met: inquisitive, well-rounded, mature, independent thinkers, engaged, collaborative, down-to-earth
Unique academic aspects: Mentored research and independent study are core values of Wooster. This mentored research starts during first year seminars, continues into a sophomore program (paid research, yay!), and culminates in the senior independent study (I.S.) which is basically a one-on-one mentored thesis, final project, or other creation. The guides and students I spoke to were pursuing a unique range of projects, including: creating a graphic novel, researching sensory processing disorders in elementary students, writing and producing a rap album, completing a screenplay, researching leadership styles of women in the United Nations, and conducting more traditional lab science research. Some of these students were completing the work entirely on campus, while others were inspired by study abroad experiences or internships and were incorporating that into their research proposal and final projects.
Unique social/cultural aspects: Wooster is proud of its Scottish Presbyterian roots. Bagpipers will love the opportunity to get involved with the pipe band or bagpipe lessons, and Highland dancers will find their home here.
Additionally, though Wooster is located in a more rural area, the student body is fairly diverse (25% students of color) and it has a definite international flair (17% international students). Though Wooster lacks a big national profile, the school does draw students primarily from outside of Ohio (70% out-of-state). I met several students during my visit who didn’t necessarily fit into any underrepresented student groups, but who had very unique life experiences such as extended travel abroad during high school or gap years, rural students, and budding activists, so I feel confident that a variety of perspectives are represented on this campus.
Colleges that seem similar: This is a tough one! College of Wooster has a really unique blend of liberal arts, research, and traditional college social life. But a few possible overlaps include: Whitman College, Dickinson College, Swarthmore, and Hamilton.
Concerns about this college: Over the years, I’ve tried and tried to get students to consider this hidden gem, but they often rule it out because of the location. (Though many of these same students will tell me about their lists which feature more isolated colleges like Middlebury, Bowdoin, Cornell, Williams, etc., so there’s that.) Wooster is a small city with less than 30,000 people. The “downtown” area is a short walk from campus and features about 10 blocks of shops, restaurants, and stores. However, Cleveland is the closest major city at about an hour away, so this isn’t the place for students who want an urban campus. That said, for students seeking a residential liberal arts education, the vast majority of your time will be spent on-campus, and Wooster has a lot to offer.
Overall impressions: My visit to College of Wooster was one of the most thoughtful and personalized visits I’ve ever done, indicative of an admissions office, student body, and faculty that really cares about everyone in their community. This is a college that will mentor and mold students throughout their four year experience, giving them real-world skills for the job market or making them competitive applicants for the nation’s top graduate programs. Every student I spoke to was incredibly articulate, honest, and curious, and they all spoke about their professors (and fellow classmates) with respect and admiration. This is an absolute gem of a school for students who are ready to be engaged learners, and those who also know how to have fun.