Admission to Western Carolina University has become increasingly competitive. Each year, the number of applications from first-year prospective students outpaces the number of available spaces in the entering class. At the same time, many first-year students make application to multiple institutions so WCU must monitor and balance the number of admission offers throughout the year to ensure that the entering class is filled but not overbooked.
To support a diverse group of entering students and to accommodate as many students as possible (within university mission and resource parameters) who desire to enroll at WCU, several admission paths have been established:
First-year applicants whose records consistently demonstrate strong evidence that they can and will perform at a competitive level at WCU, as compared with other applicants for the same term, are offered standard admission. Standard admission is still conditional on the applicant successfully completing any remaining coursework, fulfilling all minimum course and admission requirements (high school or college courses), and submitting official transcripts prior to enrollment. Standard admission notifications begin in the fall as part of the early action period (Nov. 15 deadline) for students who have submitted required documentation (see Your Records) and continue through both regular action periods (Feb. 1 and March 1 deadlines) into March are early April.
Applicants who receive standard admission offers and meet one or more of the preliminary assessment credentials that the Honors College has established are referred to the Honors College (One or more of the following criteria is necessary to be considered for Honors College admission: 4.00 or higher weighted cumulative high school GPA; top 10 percent ranking of the high school class; SAT total that exceeds 1870 or ACT composite of 30 or higher). The Honors College notifies admitted first-year students of the invitation to join. Each year, approximately 10-12 percent of the entering first-year class participates in the Honors College. (Note: First-year students who enroll at WCU, complete at least 12 hours of WCU credit, and maintain a WCU GPA of at least a 3.5 will also be invited to join.)
Western Carolina University is very concerned with how well entering students begin their WCU experience because the beginning has so much to do with whether they will finish (graduate) and how well they will finish. Because admission to WCU is competitive, because WCU uses past performance and standardized test scores to make comparisons among applicants, and because many academic programs at WCU have competitive admission requirements, some applicants may present credentials that point toward potential success at WCU but may contain one or more warning flags, as compared with students who have been offered standard admission. Some applicants present solid courses and grades, but standardized test scores may not be as competitive. Other applicants may have started slowly in high school but then turned things around, or they may have weak subjects that damage their cumulative GPAs while their standardized test scores compare favorably. Each year, a select group of applicants are offered the opportunity to participate in the Academic Success Program (ASP). This first-year program begins in the summer (it runs for six weeks from the end of June to early August) and continues into the fall and spring terms to help ensure first-year success. Admission is competitive and space is limited for this opportunity.
In recent years, WCU has received nine to 10 applications for every one space available in its first-year fall class. The competition for admission means that some students who demonstrate potential for success in college may not be as competitive as other students who have made application for admission in the fall. Select applicants who appear to be on track to satisfy all minimum course and admission requirements, display evidence for potential success in college, but are not as competitive as other applicants for standard or Academic Success Program admission may be offered admission to the Spring Entry Program (SEP). This program enables the student to take college courses elsewhere in the summer and/or fall and enroll at WCU in the subsequent spring term.
Because WCU not only deliberates between a “yes” or a “no” in terms of admissibility (much of the deliberation becomes “if yes, yes to which admission path?”), many of the admission decisions occur after the regular admission deadlines (Feb. 1 and March 1) so that applicants have the ability to provide as much information as possible from the senior year, visit campus, and provide other supporting documentation that may shed additional light on their applications. This timetable also allows WCU to better monitor how many more admission spaces are available as admitted students submit deposits or notify the university of their plans to enroll elsewhere.