Westminster Among Only 50 Colleges and Universities Nationwide Where Applications Are Increasing the Fastest

Students and faculty gather in rows on both sides of Westminster's white Greek Revival columns on a sunny afternoon.


Fulton, Mo. – June 10, 2024: Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, is among only 50 colleges and universities in the nation — and the only one in Missouri — where applications are increasing the fastest, according to data provided by the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Westminster’s No. 14 ranking was reported last week in the Digital Journal by data journalist Dom DiFurio. For comparison, the College outranked South Carolina State at No. 15, Morehouse College at No. 16 and Fisk University at No. 19.

To undergo analysis, institutions of higher learning must offer four-year degrees and have received at least 2,000 applications during the 2022-2023 academic year. The data gathered was compared to the number of applications received during the 2019-2020 academic year.

According to the report, Westminster’s applications increased 160.3% in that short period of time, with a total of 2,051 applications between 2022 and 2023.

The data shows a continuous, positive upward trend at Westminster. Overall, applications at the College have increased 44.4% since 2012, while the number of admitted students is up 103.4% since 2019: an overall change of 51.2% since 2012.

The article then points to an interesting phenomenon in higher education today. While both applications and admits are up nationwide since the pandemic, students are often choosing not to attend traditional four-year colleges, which can make enrollment lower than statistics might indicate.

Yet the value of a college education is often underestimated today. In his article, DiFurio points out an earnings gap between those with college degrees and those without.

“The typical college degree recipient can earn $20,000 more annually when entering the workforce than their peers without a degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” the article reports.

Meanwhile, there is no shortage of articles on negative trends in higher education, including reports of many colleges and universities throughout the United States closing, including this recent article from CNN.

Dr. Paul Orscheln, Vice President of Enrollment Services at Westminster, said Westminster recognizes all of these trends but somewhat remains an oasis of Midwestern calm in the midst of a national storm. He points out that steadily increasing numbers of high school and transfer students continue to apply to and enroll at Westminster because they value the many opportunities offered in a small-college environment.

“The increases we’ve seen over the past few years are the result of a seismic shift in application generation strategy coupled with incredibly hard work by the admissions and financial aid staff,” Orscheln explained. “Frequently reaching out to a more robust constituent of prospective students has helped us better communicate the value of a Westminster College education. It has opened the door to students who might never have considered Westminster in the past.”

ABOUT WESTMINSTER COLLEGE: Founded in 1851 and home of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, Westminster College in Fulton is ranked prestigiously by U.S. News & World Report as the only National Liberal Arts College in Missouri. It is also listed as one of the top institutions in the country for economic mobility and return on investment, placing in the top 16% for graduate earnings with a more than 90% placement rate. Westminster is a Forbes Best Value College that focuses on educating and inspiring students to make an impact on the world around them. To find out more about Westminster, please visit our website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Sarah Backer at 573-220-9038 or Sarah.Backer@WCMO.edu.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.