A snapshot look at spring semester enrollment at the University of Wyoming shows declines overall among freshmen and seniors.
Spring semester classes began Jan. 23. Counts from the 15th day of class, Feb. 10, indicate enrollment is down about 1.6 percent from spring 2016, said Sara Axelson, UW vice president for Student Affairs.
“At this point, in terms of semester enrollment at all locations, we are behind about 188 students,” Axelson said during the UW Board of Trustees teleconference meeting Wednesday.
In fall 2016, UW was down by 234 students on the 15th day compared to fall 2015, where 12,841 students were enrolled. Though the year-over-year spring semesters showed less of a drop than fall semesters year-over-year numbers, Axelson said UW still needs to do more to break a trend of stagnant enrollment.
“We made up a little bit of a gain, but certainly not enough as we go forward in growing enrollment,” she said.
The 15th day of classes is used to measure enrollment because it falls after the add-drop deadline for course enrollment and first tuition and fee payments are due.
UW is continuing to see declines in freshmen and seniors in the spring 2017 semester, Axelson said. Headcounts from the eighth day of classes saw 117 fewer freshmen students between spring 2016 and 2017, a nearly 8 percent drop. UW counted 90 less seniors on the eight day of classes between spring 2016 and 2017, a 3 percent drop.
Data collected from the 15th day of classes in fall 2016 found a 6.9 percent decline in freshmen enrollment from fall 2015. Senior enrollment showed a 5.3 percent decline during the same time.
Axelson said a decline of freshmen in the spring semester isn’t necessarily uncommon.
“New freshmen for spring — that’s not a normally a very high number — as well as transfers, were fairly even,” Axelson said.
“We held our own on new freshmen and transfers, but its those overall freshmen classes and seniors moving through the system that are lower.”
2016 showed UW continuing a trend of stagnant enrollment numbers since 2009. Chad Baldwin, UW director of institutional communication, said there are several ways to increase enrollment, including appealing to Wyoming high school graduates, community college transfers and nonresident student prospects.
“There are challenges and opportunities,” he said.
Confirmed new freshmen numbers are, however, showing progress for the fall 2017 semester when compared to fall 2016 numbers, Axelson said.
“At this point, we have an increase of 62 residents, 56 nonresidents — 20-30 percent increases,” she said. “On those (that) are confirmed, they pay a $300 fee really reserving their spot and their scholarships.”
When it comes to fall 2017, Axelson said the “big challenge” is making up for declines in fall 2016 and spring 2017. She said the March Board of Trustees meeting would have an overall update on enrollment.
In September, Axelson said UW there was a “full court press” to increase enrollment. Those efforts are expected to increase in 2017, Baldwin said.
One of two one-time appropriations for UW recommended in Gov. Matt Mead’s budget not included in the budget bills working through the State Legislature was $475,000 that would go toward increasing enrollment at UW. Though the appropriation was not included, Baldwin said UW would still go forward with the initiative, but likely with funding from an internal source.
“There’s not a specific appropriation to work on strategic enrollment, but that work is happening anyway,” he said.
Baldwin said he “absolutely” expected the indications of a positive trend in enrollment anticipated in fall 2017 would continue as a part of the strategic enrollment efforts.