news-category: Admissions

Gardner-Webb Continues to Extend its Geographic Reach

Students welcome class of 2021 on move-in day

Fall 2021 Student Body Represents 44 US States and 28 Foreign Countries

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb University’s geographic footprint is expanding. While continuing to recruit heavily from Cleveland County and the surrounding Foothills community, GWU is now painting more of the North Carolina map red, is attracting students from new parts of the country, and is rapidly becoming a magnet for students from across the globe. 

Enrollment by Country map

For the 2021 Fall Semester, Gardner-Webb welcomes a diverse student population. The total fall enrollment—including the traditional undergraduate program, graduate studies and undergraduate online Degree Completion Program—is 3,400 from 44 states (up by one state over Spring 2021). Beyond the institution’s home state of North Carolina, GWU is pulling the most students from South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Virginia.

“Right now, enrollments at Gardner-Webb are sending a strong two-part message,” observed GWU President Dr. William Downs. “First, our University is increasingly the college of choice for students in our own backyard. Second, the Gardner-Webb name and reputation are quickly extending across the country and indeed around the world. That means we are faithfully achieving two core elements of our mission, namely to bring a world-class education to our local community and to then also introduce GWU to the rest of the world. Gardner-Webb University is no longer ‘North Carolina’s best kept secret’!” 

map of USA showing states where GWU students are from

Students from North Carolina number 2,414 from 93 counties (up by two counties over Spring 2021). Outside of Cleveland County, the highest enrollments are coming from Mecklenburg, Gaston, Rutherford, and Wake counties.

Additionally, included in the total enrollment are 59 international students from 28 countries. The top four countries are Canada, France, Spain and Germany.

Remarking on the Class of 2025—GWU’s newest students—Kristen Setzer, vice president for Enrollment Management noted, “This year marks one of the most diverse student populations that Gardner-Webb has welcomed. We are excited to bring first-year students from 24 states and 13 countries onto campus to experience the world-class education and vibrant community that we offer. As we become the first choice for students in our own backyard, we have also made great progress to achieve our goal of extending the Gardner-Webb University name and reputation beyond the foothills of North Carolina.”

Additional Facts about the Class of 2025:

Nearly 450 first-year students began their studies at Gardner-Webb in August 2021.

  • They come from 24 states (top six):
    • North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania
  • and 74 N.C. counties (top six):
    • Cleveland, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Rutherford, Wake, Cabarrus
  • Top Five S.C. counties:
    • Cherokee, Spartanburg, Richland, Greenville, York
  • Top Five N.C. High Schools:
    • Crest, Burns, Kings Mountain, RS Central, Shelby
  • Top Three S.C. High Schools:
    • Gaffney, Chesnee, Dorman
  • 21 international students from 13 distinct countries:
    • Canada, Venezuela, France, Sweden, Belgium, Bermuda, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, Lebanon, Mexico, Serbia, South Korea
Map of N.C. showing what counties GWU students are from.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at

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