With an official number of 1,859 students, the current freshman class at the University of Wyoming has shattered the university’s record by 9.5 percent.
The class breaks the former record set in 2008, when 1,697 freshmen came to campus.
The university’s official numbers were set on Wednesday, the 15th day of class that’s known as “Census Day” in higher education.
Early in 2017, UW officials had originally expected the class entering that fall to break the 2008 record.
However, when Census Day arrived, the class came one student shy.
Kyle Moore, UW’s associate vice provost of enrollment management, called the 2018 freshman number “amazing.”
“When you have this significant of an enrollment, I think there are three ingredients that are always found: Great campus leadership, campus-wide support and recruiting, and a great institution. We have all of those,” Moore said.
Moore was hired in August 2017 to fill a new position tasked with increasing enrollment.
While there’s “not any one single thing” that accounts for the significant increase over the last year, Moore has credited a decrease in “summer melt” for playing a major role in the freshman numbers.
Summer melt refers to the number of students who attend orientation but do not end up attending classes.
In 2018, summer melt has been reduced 32 percent.
In order to retain more incoming students, Moore said the university has focused on having “right-timed conversations” that only provide the most pertinent information to prospective and incoming students throughout the summer.
“In some ways, we were giving an information overload (in previous years),” Moore said.
The record-breaking freshman class comes despite a decline in the number of students graduating from Wyoming high schools.
With 350 fewer high schoolers graduating this year, Moore said UW has captured 18 percent of the graduating cohort. In 2017, 15 percent of graduating high-schoolers enrolled at the university.
UW has made communication more consistent and spread out during the summer this year. Some aspects of the orientation process were moved into Cowboy Connect, Moore said.
“Often times, campuses have not continued the building of the relationship between the student and the campus in an effective way throughout the summer,” Moore said. “There was no silent phase within the recruitment process this year.”
Moore said he’ll have to wait until later this fall until more data from the National Student Clearinghouse clarifies whether the increased capture of the 2018 high school is a credit to increased collegiate enrollment or fewer students leaving the state for college.
The incoming class exceeded dorm capacity in the first weeks of classes.
Along with the increased freshman class, the university did a little better this year on recruiting transfers from community colleges. This year, 784 in-state transfer students arrived on campus. In 2017, there were 771 in-state transfer students.
Moore said he expects that number to continue to increase in future years as the university puts a greater emphasis on easing the transfer process.
The number of out-of-state transfer students dropped to 295 from 315 this year. Moore said the certain academic programs, like the College of Engineering and Applied Science, have strong “transfer pipelines” form out-of-state community colleges. Moore said it appears many of those out-of-state colleges have experienced enrollment declines and the university had a smaller pool of students to pull from this year.
“We’re still digging to understand the fullness of that decline,” Moore said.