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Fall enrollment shows gains in significant areas

Sept. 14, 2007

KALAMAZOO--The annual fall census of students enrolled at Western Michigan University reflects a student body that is holding steady, with a total enrollment just under 24,500 and a shift in enrollment patterns this year that includes a significant increase in the number of new transfer students and an increase in the student retention rate.

The total fall enrollment figure for the University is 24,433, just 1.6 percent smaller than the fall 2006 figure of 24,841. The final enrollment figure is actually higher than projections made earlier this year when WMU graduated the second largest class in its history--a graduating class with 501 more students than are in this year's senior class.

"I'm enormously pleased to see positive new patterns emerge that reflect our faculty and staff's work on recruitment and retention. These new trends set the stage for future growth," says WMU President John M. Dunn. "Although we are still seeing the effect of pipeline issues, that's a good 'problem' to have. It means we're helping our students find success here, seeing them graduate in record numbers and watching them begin to make their own contributions to the state and its economy."

This fall's census shows enrollment growth in a number of categories the University has targeted over the past year. The increases include:

  • an 8.5 percent increase in the number of undergraduate students transferring to WMU from other colleges and universities;
  • a 1.2 percent increase in freshman-to-sophomore retention rates;
  • a 2.5 percent increase in main-campus graduate enrollment; and
  • an 8.4 percent increase in Extended University Programs enrollment, triggered by a 41 percent increase in the number of students taking online or distance education classes.

At 3,572, the number of beginning freshmen at WMU this fall is essentially even with last year's beginner numbers. However, this year's total freshman class is actually 122 students, or 2.7 percent larger than last year's freshman class, due to a significant number of transfer students coming to WMU as freshmen.

Dr. Keith Hearit, vice provost for enrollment management, says increases in retention and the number of transfer students are particularly important, and those areas will continue to be a focus for WMU, along with the recruitment of new beginners.

"We focused on maintaining or slightly increasing the overall credentials of our beginning freshman class, and we still kept our incoming student numbers at a steady level," he notes. "This is a solid and steady platform on which we can build."

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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