A record-breaking number of freshmen came to the University of Wyoming this school year, and most of them are sticking around.
About 91 percent of the 1,695 first-time freshman students returned for their spring semester at UW — about an average number, but still a significant amount of students staying in Laramie.
However, total enrollment dropped from 12,627 in spring 2015 to 12,341 this semester, mostly because of part-time students.
“It’s hard when your head count shows a decline, but it’s not the full story, especially because the decreases are, for the most part, part-time students and outreach,” said Sara Axelson, vice president for student affairs. “(For the) Laramie campus, we’re showing strong numbers, and outreach is supporting a lot of students on campus.”
While the overall student count is down, the Laramie campus only decreased by 31 students from spring 2015.
The cumulative GPA of all 1,502 remaining fall freshmen was 2.83, according to a spring enrollment analysis.
“We had this large freshman class this fall, so it was great to see many of them return and to see their performance this fall was better than previous falls,” Axelson said. “The freshmen performance was really great to see.”
Freshmen on academic probation also dropped about 4 percent to a total of 17 percent.
The drop in part-time students is worrying, but can also sway from year to year.
“The part-time can be one professional development unit, like a group of teachers taking a course for certification,” she said. “It can be a variety, but there was also a drop of part-time (students) on campus as well. We need to keep our eye on it, but you’re going to see shifts in part-time and full-time.”
Regardless of the number of students dropping, the UW Outreach School has offered more credit hours than previous years.
While no data is available for this year, about 75 percent of freshmen are retained to their sophomore year. Axelson hopes this could change when incoming UW President Laurie Nichols arrives in May.
“As chief academic officer at South Dakota (State University), she is directly involved with enrollment and transitions, so she may have some new approaches she wants us to take,” she said. “It’s exciting to see what she brings to the table.”
The enrollment figures are not normally compared to fall numbers, Axelson said.
“Your bellwether semester is always fall because it shows the recruiting cycles and the return to school, and so you don’t do comparisons to the fall enrollments,” she said.
Many other metrics have stayed relatively even or comparable to previous years Axelson said.
“We were also slightly off with international students, but we had a slight increase in minority students, and that was good to see,” she said. “I think there weren’t any major trends that were alarming to us. It was more, ‘How can we make sure we’re providing the right amount of support to students?’”
University of Wyoming enrollment numbers
12,341: Total spring enrollment in 2016
12,627: Total spring enrollment in 2015
1,502: Freshman spring enrollment in 2016
1,427: Freshman spring enrollment in 2015
2.83: Freshman cumulative GPA in 2016
2.69: Freshman cumulative GPA in 2015