Otterbein Welcomes New Students: A Snapshot of America’s New College Class

Posted Aug 13, 2019

A new class of students will be moving to campus on Wednesday, Aug. 21, and starting classes on Monday, Aug. 26. The class of more than 720 first-year and transfer students is an extraordinary snapshot of the new American college class. It not only demonstrates high academic achievements, but also reflects increases in students coming from underrepresented groups and those taking advantage of new pathways to a four-year degree.

New recruitment initiatives at Otterbein have resulted not only in a steady increase in first-year student enrollment, but also a trend of enrolling larger numbers of ethnically diverse students for six consecutive years. This year’s class includes more than 160 students of color.

The new Opportunity Scholarship, which meets full need to tuition for Ohio residents whose families earn $60,000 or less or who qualify for the Federal Pell grant, has increased socio-economic diversity and resulted in 242 Pell-eligible students, or 34% of the entering student body — the most in school history. The new Opportunity Scholarship joins a growing number of Otterbein initiatives focused on serving low-income, underserved students.

Otterbein’s Urban Districts Initiative, which provides additional aid and academic and social support for students from four central Ohio urban districts is bringing 112 students to campus this fall, almost 17% of the first-year class. That number includes 44 first-year students from Columbus City Schools, the largest entering class from the district ever.

Seventy-five of the new entering students are taking advantage of transfer pathways to a four-year degree, including 56 coming to Otterbein from Columbus State Community College. This includes 21 students who have already earned an associate degree from CSCC — the first three students in Otterbein’s Dual Admission Program, one of the most affordable programs to a bachelor’s degree in the state, and 18 students in its Guaranteed Admission Program.

“Our recruitment efforts demonstrate our commitment to students who are often overlooked by other universities. We see their potential and desire to continue their education, and Otterbein makes a 21st century education affordable for them. Once here, we provide extensive support to ensure they are successful in their transitions to college and their academic careers,” said Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, vice president for enrollment management.

One new transition program is the RISE Program, which connects Opportunity Scholarship recipients with faculty, staff, and support offices so that they may succeed personally, socially, and academically. Additionally, the program helps each new student connect with other peers, a

mentor, and ultimately, the institution as a whole. Nearly 80 students participating in RISE move in on Aug. 16.

Fifty-seven percent of the new students are from central Ohio, although the class has students from 21 states and Australia. Otterbein also enrolls international students from Brazil, China, New Zealand, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.

The new student schedule includes:

  • Friday, Aug. 16 – Move-In for students participating in the RISE Program, which is designed to ease the transition of first-year students that are recipients of the Opportunity Scholarship, so that they may succeed personally, socially, and academically.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 21, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. – New Student Move-In with assistance from faculty, staff and returning students.
  • Thursday, Aug. 22, 9 a.m. – New Student March and Clap In. Faculty and staff line Grove Street from Main Street to Park Street to “clap in” students as they march to their First Year Convocation. This tradition mirrors the “clap out” they experience when exiting their graduation ceremony in four years.
  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. – New Student Service Plunge. New students gather at the Rike Center, 170 Center St., before departing to various service sites for a morning of community service volunteering. Otterbein’s 2,600 undergraduate students give 70,000 service hours to the community each year.