The University of Wyoming has enrolled the second-largest freshman class in its history this fall, after graduating a record number of students in the past academic year.
The 1,760 first-time students this semester, while down from the record of 1,849 the year before, still represent a nearly 12 percent increase from fall 2014 — and illustrate heightened awareness of the value of an education at Wyoming’s flagship and land-grant university.
Meanwhile, the number of people receiving degrees and certificates from UW in the 2018-19 academic year topped 3,000 for the first time ever, according to new numbers from UW’s Office of Institutional Analysis. The 3,031 total degrees included 2,228 bachelor’s degrees, also a new record, and an increase of more than 100 from the year before.
“Our focus is not only on recruiting more students to attend the university, but also on helping them succeed and receive their degrees,” says Kyle Moore, UW’s associate vice provost for enrollment management. “The numbers we’re seeing in enrollment and graduation illustrate our positive trajectory and energize us for the additional work to be done.”
In part because of the record number of graduates, UW’s overall enrollment dipped slightly this semester after two straight years of growth. According to census data collected on the 15th day of classes, 12,249 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled at the university, compared to 12,450 last fall. The 15th class day is used because it falls after the class drop/add deadlines, and after the first tuition and fee payment is due.
While the number of first-time students who applied and were admitted to UW increased to 5,133 from 5,084 the year before, the number actually enrolling declined — preventing another record freshman class. There are 57 fewer Wyoming resident first-time freshmen (858) and 42 fewer nonresidents (902) than in last fall’s record class, but the number of nonresidents is still significantly higher than the 771 enrolled in fall 2017. And the new freshman class still meets the projections desired for fall 2019, keeping UW on pace to achieve its enrollment goals.
“We have intensified our efforts to recruit Wyoming students, and the university is working with our K-12 and community college partners to create more of a college-going culture in the state,” Moore says. “While college might not be for everyone, the statistics are clear that earning a bachelor’s degree leads to significantly higher earnings and job satisfaction. And the future prosperity of our state depends in large measure on a higher level of educational attainment.”
To make a UW education more accessible to Wyoming high school graduates, the university’s Board of Trustees recently approved a significant increase in merit- and need-based aid to Wyoming students starting in the 2020-21 academic year.
Called the Cowboy Commitment, the new financial aid package includes award commitments of $6,500, $3,500, $1,500 and $500 for new Wyoming high school graduates based upon their academic performance — on top of Hathaway Scholarship Program awards. There also is a new $4,000 award for Wyoming community college transfers with associate degrees, 75 or fewer academic credits and grade-point averages of at least 3.0. Additionally, trustees have allocated $1 million for need-based aid for in-state students.
For more details, go to www.uwyo.edu/cowboycommitment.
Here are some other highlights from UW’s fall 2019 enrollment report:
— The number of resident students transferring from Wyoming community colleges has held relatively steady over the past few years, going from 665 in 2017 to 699 in 2018 to 686 this semester.
— The number of students enrolled in UW’s distance education programs this fall, 1,793, is up 4.4 percent from the 1,717 distance students in fall 2018. The university is working to make even more distance programs available to people in Wyoming and beyond.
— The number of new students from outside the United States studying at U.S. universities has dropped significantly, and UW is no exception. There are 623 international students attending UW this fall, down from 706 the year before.
— The average high school grade-point average for new freshmen rose from 3.50 last year to 3.52 this year. The average ACT score is 24.7, compared to 24.8 last year. Both of those averages have increased from a 3.48 GPA and 24.6 ACT score five years ago.
— Wyoming residents make up 66.3 percent of the UW student body, nonresidents 33.7 percent.
— Minority students make up 12.7 percent of UW’s student population, compared with 11.7 percent five years ago. Compared to last fall, enrollment of Native American students has increased by 10.6 percent and African American students by 9.3 percent.
— Women make up 51.7 percent of the student population, men 48.3 percent.