As the merger between Wheelock College and Boston University approaches, BU has been making preparations to accommodate the estimated 650 students transitioning from Wheelock to BU in the fall.
Although the deadline by which Wheelock students had to commit to BU was April 1, Wheelock President David Chard said this was not a definitive deadline.
“We anticipate many students are still in the process of considering their options,” Chard said.
The exact number of Wheelock students transitioning to BU is not yet known, Denise Mooney, BU’s associate vice president for enrollment and student administration, wrote in an email. All currently enrolled Wheelock students in good standing were eligible to transition to BU by the deadline.
Since the merger was announced in October, both BU and Wheelock staff have been working to find ways to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Cynthia Forrest, interim vice president for student life at Wheelock, said BU has been working in conjunction with the college to ensure students know the full scope of the opportunities available to them.
“Everybody has worked across the university from the presidents working together to our academic deans working together,” Forrest said. “We all have been, since back in the fall, talking and trying to identify questions and then provide information as we’ve gone along.”
Chard said he believes BU has done all that it could to minimize the complexities of the merger.
“BU has done a substantial amount of work, including welcome events, getting students familiar with their campus, substantial communications regarding housing options,” Chard said. “I don’t think there have been many things that haven’t been discussed.”
Chard said one the largest challenges facing the merger has been miscommunication and rumors, including a rumor that transitioning students were given housing selection priority over current BU students.
“A number of BU students — largely through social media — were complaining about the idea that people were coming from Wheelock, they didn’t get accepted officially into BU, they were paying less tuition, those kind of things,” Chard said. “That seems to have dissipated, but it left a little bit of a mark on our students feeling like they weren’t going to be very welcomed.”
Forrest said Wheelock students were given the same housing selection opportunities and options as current BU students and that those rumors were not true.
Wheelock students were shown a presentation on the changes to their student housing options before the housing selection process began. Forrest said special attention was paid to current and prospective resident assistants at Wheelock, allowing for an easy move to BU’s RA program should they choose to participate.
While some transitioning students chose to continue to live on Wheelock’s campus next year, BU spokesman Colin Riley said that over 100 students have decided to make the move to the Charles River Campus. BU students have also been given the opportunity to live on the Fenway Campus next year.
Forrest said the Fenway Campus offers a unique atmosphere for BU students.
“It provides a non-urban-feeling environment,” Forrest said. “It’s a lovely setting, and so for BU students who might like a non-urban feeling, in quotes, it provides that alternative.”
Riley said any concerns over the merger negatively affecting BU’s admissions process were unwarranted.
“Our applications have been very high,” Riley said. “It’s been our most competitive year ever.”
Several BU and Wheelock students said that while there is still some uncertainty surrounding how students will fare after the merger, they are optimistic about the outcome.
Bricen Standish, a dual-degree freshman in the College of Communication and the College of Arts and Sciences, said that while he does not like the idea of Wheelock students coming to BU without being admitted through the regular application process, he thinks the merger will provide a good opportunity for the School of Education.
“[The merger] gives [BU] a bigger campus, as well as a bigger overall place for education classrooms and programs to [improve] the opportunities we have here,” Standish said. “I think it makes BU more dynamic. It gives it another chance for it to grow into a larger college as well as a college that’s more multifaceted.”
Patrick Martins, a freshman at Wheelock, said he considered leaving his college after hearing the news of the merger. Ultimately, he said, he decided to transition to BU and will be living in South Campus in the fall.
“I think it’s going to be an interesting [year] and a good experiment with two schools merging with each other, and [we’ll] see what happens.” Martins said. “It’s going to be kind of hard to adjust, but I think I’ll be fine.”
Student life, including housing, social groups and involvement, is a large factor for students in making the decision to transition to BU. Chard said some students will have a difficult time making the leap from a small college environment to that of BU.
“The biggest challenges are just everyone at Wheelock beginning to prepare themselves to say goodbye to what they came here for,” Chard said. “[Whether] they’re faculty, staff or students, they all came here for a reason.”
Mike Reddy contributed to the reporting for this article.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article erroneously stated that all Wheelock students were in good standing and eligible to transition to BU. It should have stated that all Wheelock students who were in good standing were eligible to transition to BU. The sentence has been modified to reflect the truth.