Carlie Williams is a second year Digital Journalism and English student at the University of Windsor. Lover of Friends, long naps, iced coffee, and her beagle Zoey.
With a recent 10% decline in first-year student enrolment, the University of Windsor is struggling to attract new students to the area.
Lionel Walsh is the Assistant Vice President of the North American recruitment at the University of Windsor and says a lot of people are not familiar with the area.“You know, people don’t know where Windsor is, so we’ve got to put ourselves on the map and that’s what we’re in the process of doing.”
Lionel states that many students do not have an opinion of the city of Windsor before visiting the school, because they do not know where it is.
To inform students about the university and give them the opportunity to experience Windsor, they have instituted the Shadow Program, where high school students can join a first-year undergraduate for a day.
“I think one of the things is that once we get a student here and they experience what it’s like to be here, they change their mind about what they thought of Windsor,” Lionel says.
The University of Windsor participates in the annual University Fair held in downtown Toronto in the hopes of attracting students to Windsor.
The school is forced to combat the D-grade reputation of the city, but many students believe its efforts are not much.
First-year Engineering student, Sharbel Kantati, is not overly pleased with the experience so far and is planning on transferring in the fall. “The average of acceptance is really low. It tells you that they don’t care, they just want you in.”
According to Maclean’s 2012 list of Canada’s most dangerous cities, Windsor falls at 35 out of 100. With high unemployment rates and deemed low in attraction, it is fair for new coming students and their parents to have concerns about the city.
Sarah and Brynn Jichici from Guelph, Ontario, moved to Windsor to attend the university. “I was a little scared because I knew that it wasn’t very safe. Like, I heard it wasn’t one of the safest cities,” Brynn says.
Out of Canada’s largest cities, Windsor ranks 162 on MoneySense’s list of Canada’s Best Places to Live 2014, proving it to be a less desirable place to reside.
Natalie Klinard, an Environmental Science student agrees. “Without the University, we wouldn’t really have much in Windsor, like we have the Casino; there’s nothing really else.”
The university is making attempts to turn this around by providing students with the opportunity to learn from award-winning professors and cutting edge researchers in a number of different programs.
Current first-year business student, Austin Thorton travelled from his hometown in Vancouver to tour the school prior to making his decision. “I got recruited here to play football and I just really liked the atmosphere around the team, it was something that I really wanted to be a part of.”
Several students find it is not the university or the city that makes Windsor appealing, but rather the people that live there.
Brynn also had nothing but nice things to say about the people she has met since having commuted to the Windsor region. “I think, like the people really make a difference. They make this city a better place. I think like it’s not really where you are, it’s the people you’re with that make something special and like you can always find something to do if you’re with the right people.”