WMU sees surge in new freshman, grad and international students

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KALAMAZOO—Western Michigan University's fall 2013 enrollment figures show a 5.1 percent increase in the number of new freshmen and strong surges in the number of both international students and graduate students seeking doctoral degrees.

The official fall census was taken at the close of the day Sept. 10. As predicted earlier this month, smaller upper-level classes from earlier years' entering classes led to a slight overall enrollment decrease of 1.2 percent over last year's numbers. WMU's total enrollment for fall 2013 is 24,294.

WMU's increase in the number of beginning freshmen is among the largest percentage increases officially announced this fall by any Michigan public university. Despite steep decreases in the number of Michigan high school graduates over the past five years, this year's applicant pool at WMU was the largest in a decade.

"Our enrollment increases are strongly reflected in programs for which Western Michigan University has a growing national and international reputation," said WMU President John M. Dunn in announcing the tally at the Sept. 18 meeting of the University's Board of Trustees. "We have colleges with large increases in the number of both freshmen and graduate students. And our Lee Honors College continues the strong growth we've been seeing over the past several years. Students and their families around the world see WMU as a place offering good value, good values and positive results."

Fall enrollment report notables

  • International student enrollment grew by 7.2 percent to 1,688 students from 104 nations. That is the highest number of international students in a decade and includes an influx of new students from such nations as Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Saudi Arabia.
  • The number of students pursuing a degree in one of WMU's 30 doctoral degree programs increased by 3.7 percent.
  • Graduate students comprise 21 percent of WMU's overall enrollment, down a fraction of a percentage point from last year, but still the second highest percentage in the past nine years.
  • Minority student enrollment now stands at 19.5 percent of WMU's total student body. Since fall 2007, when minority students made up 11 percent of the student body, the total number of minority students has increased by nearly 2,000.
  • A 2 percent overall increase in minority student enrollment was led by a 5.7 percent increase in the number of Hispanic students and a 1.8 percent increase in the number of African-American students.
  • While the majority of WMU's student body—nearly 88 percent—continues to come from Michigan, out-of-state enrollment increased by 2.8 percent this year. That's the sixth consecutive year of increases in that category.
  • Admissions officials report that, in addition to the 5.1 percent increase in new freshmen enrolling this fall, the academic profile of the freshman class was enhanced as well. The freshman class average high school GPA went from 3.33 to a 3.37 when compared to last year's entering class. The freshman class average ACT composite rose from 22.3 to 22.7.