Every year, prospective students are faced with the decision of attending college close to home, or finding a school elsewhere, putting hundreds, sometimes even thousands of miles between family and childhood friends. The majority of students at DePauw choose the latter, leaving their community and moving to Greencastle, IN.
According to Orlando Ramirez, assistant director of admissions for Putnam County, as of 2017, there were approximately 24 students from the Greencastle area who enrolled at DePauw. This includes three schools that serve the Greencastle and Putnam County students: Greencastle High School, South Putnam High School, and North Putnam High School. “The number of students at Greencastle and South Putnam have remained relatively the same over the past four years with a slight dip with this incoming class,” Ramirez said.
DePauw Students from the Greencastle area that decided to attend a college in their hometown had various incentives to do so.
A resident of Greencastle and a sophomore at DePauw, Ben Wilkerson, said, “DePauw is close to home and I’m very close to my family. DePauw has a strong STEM program, as well as a liberal arts degree, which matched exactly what I wanted to study: computer science and physics with some courses in history, music, political science, etc. Finally, I chose DePauw over the likes of Purdue because of the small, rural feel of the community, both on and off-campus. I wouldn’t enjoy attending a large university where I am a number, but I appreciate the interpersonal connections I can make with my professors here.”
First-year Eihi Yoshinaga has lived in Greencastle for years, but has also previously lived in Japan. Similarly, junior Aiden LeBlanc has also lived in Avon, Indiana. Both have experienced areas more urbanized and highly developed than Greencastle.
When Eihi Yoshinaga was asked about how she felt about her decision to attend DePauw she said, “I’m happy about my decision, mostly. My parents are so close to here, so they come every single week to eat, which I’m happy about but sometimes I need some private space too.”
Originally coming from Queens, New York, Orlando Ramirez said, “For me, having a sense that I was part of a family, even as a visitor to campus, was the most influential factor.”
“Students in Greencastle may not choose to enroll at DePauw because it is too close to home and it is too familiar. They want to explore more of the world, or DePauw doesn't offer the major or experience of which they are seeking,” Ramirez said.
For many students, leaving their hometown is an opportunity to gain a sense of independence that, for some students at Putnam county high schoolers, attending DePauw would lack.
There are also a variety of other components that have to be taken into consideration before making a final college decision.
An additional reason the university does not see more students from the community is that some citizens of Greencastle cannot afford tuition at DePauw.
According to Ramirez, “There are other factors that can further influence a student's desire to enroll, such as campus aesthetics, a sense of belonging, the university's reputation, and cost.”
When LeBlanc was asked what he thinks one of the reasons for more Greencastle residents not coming to DePauw is, he said, “A lot of people go to trade school, so the percentage of people who graduate from a Putnam County school, a very low number go to college, especially colleges with a sticker price like DePauw.”
Yoshinaga responded to the same question with, “Well, [for] one, tuition is kind of scary. With the financial aid and everything, public schools are going to be seemingly a lot cheaper.”
DePauw’s admissions staff has various programs and methods of reaching out to local students to advocate on behalf of the University.
Wilkerson shared how he is still getting “a great college experience” while still having the safety net of being a short drive from home. “I think that sharing stories similar to this would encourage more students from the surrounding area to attend DePauw.”
Ramirez went on to praise Depauw’s admissions office for their “highly personalized” recruiting efforts, but still “strive to provide more of a presence when recruiting students.”
Students from Greencastle have unique wants and needs for their college experience, but some want to see the big buildings and heavily populated streets of a bigger city, or live near a mall for a change.