Class of 2019 begins at Guilford, ready to engage with community

Three hundred and twenty first-years arrived at this summer’s new student orientation at the College on Aug. 24. Greeted with fresh faces, full schedules and fun activities, first-years got to know Guilford.

One hundred seventy-one first-year students are from North Carolina and 149 are from out of state. Fifteen students are Quaker and 25 have siblings, grandparents or parents who attended Guilford. The ratio of male to female students is 175:145.

“They’re students who have really been in service to their communities,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management Arlene Cash. “It’s really impressive to me the kinds of things these students are doing.”

This incoming class has students who have participated in AmeriCorp, started their own non-profit called StreetWatch, co-founded an Internet cafe for women in Kabul, Afghanistan, and interned for an Iron Chef participant. There is also a first-year from Carolina Friends School who was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, supporting disabled drivers.

The new students chose Guilford for many different reasons.

“The visit made the biggest difference,” said first-year Corry Greenler. “I wasn’t planning on coming to Guilford, but then I came, stayed here and took a tour. Something seemed like a good fit.”

First-years Sam McCormick and Caitlyn Councilman both mentioned the appeal of the Quaker community and the small atmosphere as part of the charm.

“I really like exploring the library here,” said McCormick. “The first floor is beautiful.”

Despite these features, admission numbers have been on a steady decline for the past few years, and this incoming class is not the start to our much-needed reboot.

Guilford is attempting to spread its appeal to as many students as possible.

“The president is really focused on increasing enrollment and making sure that we’re recruiting and enrolling students who are a good fit for Guilford,” said Cash. “This is a very important time in (their) lives and we want to make it memorable in a very positive way.”

For a future admissions boost, the President Jane Fernandes and the admissions office have a plan.

“We will reach out to young people in areas of the country where we have not traditionally done so and recruit new pools of students to Guilford,” said Fernandes in an email interview. “We are working to make Guilford as affordable as possible and (ensure) that the value of the investment a family makes in this College results not only in graduates who are critical thinkers but in ones who are prepared for immediate employment or graduate school.”

Another strategy for recruiting new students is getting Guilford’s name out there earlier.

“We hadn’t really focused on (the students coming in this fall) until they were high school seniors,” said Cash. “Other schools do a great job also of personalizing, so we have to do better than just keeping up with our competition. They’re eating us for lunch, unfortunately.”

For Fernandes, recruitment is about showing students the opportunities that come with getting a Guilford degree.

“We have a powerful story to tell about student outcomes, and we will make a strong appeal to students and families who will benefit from a Guilford education and want to invest in it,” said Fernandes.