While new student numbers remain positive, enrollment takes slight dip

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—In a competitive environment characterized by declining numbers of Michigan high school graduates, Western Michigan University's incoming freshman class increased slightly this fall, while the overall number of students enrolled took a slight dip.

The fall 2015 student census at WMU showed a total enrollment for fall of 23,556—down 1.5 percent compared to last fall's total. The 2015 fall total includes 18,567 undergraduates and 4,989 graduate students. Students at the graduate level make up 21.2 percent of the student body.

Beginner numbers inched up by just 0.1 percent to nearly 3,100 students, and the number of new graduate students increased slightly as well, to 1,413. The number of transfer students declined by 3.5 percent.

"We're pleased to see our incoming freshman numbers hold steady and actually increase a bit, given the state population changes," says Dr. Christopher W. Tremblay, WMU's associate vice provost for enrollment management. "Our fall enrollment report includes a few areas for us to focus on in the future, but mostly we're seeing a reinforcement of trends that have emerged over the past several years."

2015 fall enrollment report

The fall 2015 enrollment report shows that a number of multi-year enrollment trends are continuing.

  • The freshman-to-sophomore retention rate continued its fourth year of growth increasing to 79 percent this fall—the highest retention rate in 17 years.
  • A 2.6 percent increase in the number of doctoral students brings that total to 919—the largest doctoral enrollment in University history.
  • Enrollment in WMU's elite Lee Honors College increased by 2.8 percent this fall to 1,756, continuing a growth trend that has seen a 56 percent enrollment increase in the honors college since 2010. At 401, the incoming honors college freshman class is the largest in University history.
  • Minority enrollment increased 1.5 percent this fall to 5,043, and minority students now comprise more than 21 percent of the student body.
  • International enrollment held steady this fall increasing slightly to a total of 1,859 students from 98 nations. The top five countries of origin are Saudi Arabia, India, China, the Dominican Republic and Iraq.
  • While a full 86 percent of students are classified as Michigan residents, the University saw its eighth consecutive year of increase in the number of nonresident students, with the increase this year at 1.2 percent.

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