Converse College was buzzing with activity on Wednesday as new students arrived for the fall semester.
Traffic jams developed in campus parking lots while students and their families unloaded cars and carried boxes to the dorms. They were greeted by faculty, staff and student volunteers who helped them find their rooms and unpack.
There was a festive atmosphere to welcome the college’s largest number of new students in 14 years — 214 new students from 24 states and five countries. The new students have a middle 50% SAT range of 1000 – 1180, four valedictorians among them, and an average GPA of 3.8.
“Students and their families are finding out about the Converse success story,” said President Betsy Fleming. “We have had two Fulbright scholars in three years, new housing and there is a lot of good collaborative work going on between students and faculty.”
Seniors and juniors are moving into a new $12.3 million apartment housing facility this year. The Heath is part of a 10-year master plan for housing.
Fleming started her day by walking around and welcoming students and their families. She has been president of the women’s college for seven years and said move-in day is always fun and exciting. The excitement is generated partially by the high expectations she has for the new students.
“I want students to dream big and make use of all the opportunities available to help them make their dreams happen,” she said. “I want them to have fun and know they can make a difference in the world. College is a time to nurture students and help them discover their individual and creative talents.”
Students will continue moving in during the next several days. Classes will begin Tuesday.
Kaelyn Ireland, a freshman from Atlanta, is following in her mother’s footsteps by attending Converse. Her mother, Katherine, graduated in 1986. On Wednesday morning, Kaelyn’s parents were helping her move into her dorm room. Her father, Matthew, was trying to assemble the bed while Kaelyn and her mother unpacked and arranged the room.
“I always thought if I had a daughter, I would want her to go to Converse,” Katherine said. “She asked me where I went to college when she was about 11 or 12 years old. At the time, it seemed like college was so far away.”
Converse wasn’t mentioned again until last year when Kaelyn attended the college’s Young Writer’s Workshop. Kaelyn said she fell in love with the college and knew she would be back the following year as a student. “Everyone is so welcoming and loving here,” Kaelyn said. “I had a really good feeling about it. I thought I wanted to go to a bigger, co-ed school, but this is the right place for me.”
Kaelyn was excited to get the chance to walk on the brick sidewalks along the campus that her mother used to walk on every day.
Alexandra Whicker, a freshman from Galloway, N.J., arrived on Tuesday and watched other students get settled. She was drawn to Converse for several reasons including its art therapy program. “I first saw Converse when I was on the computer looking for Converse tennis shoes,” she said. “I also noticed Converse had a purple banner and purple is my favorite color, but the most important thing was when I discovered the college had an art therapy program. I knew then that I wanted to go to Converse.”
Article by Linda Conley for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal