Western Courier

Enrollment rises, WIU projects trend: Regional centers are big factor in rising enrollment

Rob Carroll

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Due to the combination of more entering freshmen and additional students taking classes in the Quad Cities, the total fall 1998 WIU enrollment has increased from last year. This year’s enrollment of 12,610 is a 3.4 percent increase from the 1997 enrollment of 12,200. “We’ve been real busy around here,” Charles Gilbert, director of Institutional Research and Planning, said. “It’s kind of like the ‘Field Of Dreams.’ We’ve built our baseball field, now let’s see how it works.”WIU’s on-campus enrollment of 10,022 is up from 9,823 in the fall of 1997. This is an increase of a little more than 2 percent. On-campus enrollment has increased for the last three years.

There are 1,772 new freshmen, 151 more than last year. The university caps freshman enrollment at 1,830.

“If the increase continues, we will hit the target next year and stabilize enrollment,” Gilbert said.

“Western’s growing success in recruitment reflects favorably on admissions representatives and the management staff of our Office of Admissions. Moreover, we continue to benefit especially from the outstanding efforts of the faculty members and staff members who provide the high quality of instruction and services that have led to our impressive increase in retention,” WIU President Donald Spencer said.

There are 1,416 students taking classes in the Quad Cities this fall compared to 1,199 in the fall of 1997. The total number of students includes those enrolled at the WIU Regional Center, the Quad Cities Graduate Study Center and the Rock Island Arsenal.

According to a 10-day headcount, the combined extension and Quad Cities enrollment is 2,588 this fall. This is up from 2,377 last year.

“The Quad Cities metropolitan area is the largest in Illinois to be served by a four-year institution,” Gilbert said.

According to Linda Stickney-Taylor, dean of WIU’s School of Extended and Continuing Education, university marketing efforts have increased interest in WIU’s program offerings to place-bound Quad Cities residents. The number of students transferring from other schools has remained flat from the past year.

“The number of transfer students had been growing a little bit, but the last five or six years the number has been fairly stable,” Gilbert said.

There is a slight decrease in new graduate students who are seeking a degree. The number of new graduate students on campus seeking a degree for fall 1998 has decreased 11.69 percent. The Quad Cities total has increased 6.79 percent from the previous year, while the extension total has dropped 17.12 percent. This makes a combined decrease of 8.36 percent in new graduate students seeking a degree.

There has also been a small decrease in juniors from the previous year. This fall there are 2,005 juniors enrolled, compared to the 2,026 enrolled in the fall of 1997.

Sophomore and senior fall enrollment have both increased from 1997. There were 1,604 sophomores enrolled during this time in 1997 compared to 1,657 now. Seniors have increased from 2,339 in the fall of last year to 2,421 in 1998.

“Our enrollment numbers are very gratifying,” Spencer said. “We have somewhat exceeded our targets for new freshmen and transfers and overall enrollment, and freshman-to-sophomore retention has improved significantly.”

According to Gilbert, the average time of graduation is four-and-a-half years. The university hopes to lower this number and raise enrollment with GRADTRAC and the four-year, fixed-cost program.

GRADTRAC helps make it possible for students to graduate in four years. Students in the program are guaranteed they will graduate in four years or the university will pay their tuition for the fifth year. The four-year, fixed-cost program guarantees a freeze on tuition, fees and room and board. The program is scheduled to begin the 1999-2000 school year.

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Enrollment rises, WIU projects trend: Regional centers are big factor in rising enrollment