Westminster College Maintains Increased Enrollment for Third Consecutive Year and is Named One of Nation’s Best for Economic Mobility
Fulton, MO – While enrollment at four-year colleges and universities continues to decline nationwide, Westminster College in Fulton, MO, has maintained an enrollment increase for three consecutive years.
As classes begin this week, the liberal arts college that prides itself on small class sizes and a personalized approach to higher education is welcoming more than 200 new students to campus. The number contrasts with enrollment from previous years: At its lowest rate, Westminster enrolled 142 freshmen in 2019.
Not long before students arrived back on campus, the College learned that the independent think tank Third Way named Westminster one of the nation’s best among colleges and universities in the United States in terms of economic mobility and return on investment for low-income students and Pell Grant recipients.
Westminster is one of only two four-year colleges or universities in Missouri to rank in the top 20 percent for economic mobility. Logan University, a healthcare-based university, is the other Missouri institution to achieve the same ranking.
The economic mobility information is not really a surprise to Westminster officials. In recent years, the College has ranked in the top 16 percent nationwide for graduate earnings and averaged 98 percent placement in jobs or graduate school within six months of graduation.
Dr. Paul Orscheln, Vice President of Enrollment Services, Marketing, and Strategic Communications, says there may be a correlation between Westminster’s increased enrollment and the economic mobility and placement of its graduates.
The increase, in some respects, boils down to how Westminster delivers its education and support services to all students, Orscheln says.
“Our Enrollment Services staff members work closely with families to help them find appropriate financial aid in order to receive a Westminster education, so many families who thought a private college education was out of their price range have discovered they can go to Westminster and receive a personalized educational experience that will pay off,” he explains.
President and Chief Transformation Officer Donald P. Lofe, Jr., Class of 1979, says current Westminster enrollment trends and the recent Third Way ranking speak to the value of a Westminster degree.
“A Westminster College degree has long been an esteemed degree that means something outside of our small campus,” Lofe says. “This information shows that not only does Westminster provide a quality education, but it is a tremendous return on one’s investment.”
Lofe adds that students today are concerned about outcomes. Their focus on immediate employment after graduation is enhanced by the College’s Student Success Center that opened in 2020.
Tutoring and career-planning services combined with a strong alumni hiring network are just a few factors that help Westminster students achieve economic mobility after graduation.
This information should assuage fears associated with headlines such as those on May 26, 2022, by the New York Times that reported a nationwide enrollment decline of 4.7 percent.
At Westminster, in addition to strong freshman enrollment, the number of transfer students has more than doubled since last fall. And yet the College has not sacrificed quality or compromised its enrollment standards: Orscheln says 20 percent of this year’s freshman class earned at least a 4.0 GPA in high school, while almost 60 percent had a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher.
Meanwhile, Westminster continues to find ways to reach out to non-traditional students. The College launched Westminster Online this spring — a 100 percent online degree program designed primarily for working adults who have taken some college classes but not completed their degrees.
Westminster Online students began classes this week along with on-campus students.
“By focusing on both student need and academic quality, we are becoming a stronger institution, and it shows, as indicated by our enrollment statistics and the results of the Third Way mobility index,” Lofe says. “Westminster students, faculty, and staff have many reasons to feel proud as we begin the 2022 Academic Year.”
To learn more about the Third Way economic mobility index, please visit Third Way’s website.
ABOUT WESTMINSTER COLLEGE: Founded in 1851 and home of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, Westminster College in Fulton, MO, is ranked prestigiously by U.S. News & World Report as the only National Liberal Arts College in Missouri. The institution is in the top 16 percent for graduate earnings and boasts a 98 percent placement rate. Westminster also is a Forbes Best Value College. Westminster focuses on educating and inspiring students to become the world leaders of tomorrow. To find out more about Westminster, please visit the College’s website.