UW Prexy's pasture

Final spring 2018 enrollment figures for the University of Wyoming show a slight increase from spring 2017 — and that students are, on average, taking heavier course-loads.

According to the university’s official census-day count, 11,806 students — a figure including both undergraduates and graduates — are currently enrolled at UW, compared to 11,795 on census-day in spring 2017.

The number is lower than the fall semester’s 12,397, although a drop from fall to spring is always expected, said Kyle Moore, associate vice provost for enrollment management.

“We don’t typically recruit to a spring start-term,” he said. “We certainly accept students, particularly transfer students, and welcome them to begin in the spring. But typically, high school students are not graduating in any kind of sizable quantity in a December graduation.”

UW graduated 596 students in December 2017 — awarding a total of 613 degrees or certificates.

This large graduating class meant that for UW to see even its modest increase in enrollment from last spring, it had to recruit far more students than it has in years past, which it accomplished.

UW overcame a similar challenge during the fall 2017 semester.

After May 2017 saw the university’s largest graduating class in history, UW recruited enough new students to keep enrollment steady, even managing to slightly raise enrollment.

“Both the May and the December graduations were larger in 2017 than they were in 2016,” Moore said. “So, you’ve got two really big graduating groups.”

UW is also making efforts to increase its four-year graduation rate, which will require students to take more credits per semester on average. Spring 2018 enrollment figures show improvement on this front as well, Moore said.

While student credit hours — the total number of credit hours being taken across the institution by both undergraduate and graduate students — was 141,594 in spring 2017, it grew to 143,737 in spring 2018. This roughly 1.5 percent increase means the average student is now enrolled in more than 12 credits, which Moore said is an impressive statistic given that full-time graduate students — who are included in the calculation — are only expected to take nine credits.

“Overall, it demonstrates students are enrolling in more hours on average than they were the previous term,” Moore said.

For the fall 2017 semester, UW welcomed what might have been its largest freshman class in history — spurred, university officials said, by greater outreach and more aggressive recruitment efforts.

Those efforts — awarding scholarships and financial aid earlier, greater faculty, administration and trustee involvement in the recruitment process, reduced transfer deposits and more — are being continued now, and will likely lead to an even larger freshman class in fall 2018, Moore said.

“I think it will be strong,” he said. “I think … the activities and relationship-building events that we are doing now are going to yield a strong new student class and I think that our retention efforts will continue to yield a strong and growing number of continuing students.”

Moore added the number of applications made for fall 2018 so far has already surpassed the number of applications made in total for fall 2017.

Transfer and graduate applications, which come in later on average than freshman applications, are also up, though Moore said it is more difficult to gauge those numbers so many months out.

“As interest continues to grow, it is certainly in the interest of the student to apply soon and let us help them through this process,” he said. “As soon as they know they’re interested in the University of Wyoming, we’re available and ready to help them — whether that’s a transfer, freshman or a returning student.”

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