Student enrollment tops 9,000 to set new record

The 2007 fall semester registration rolls are closed and the numbers are in – overall student enrollment at Western Carolina University has topped 9,000 for the first time in the institution’s history, with significant growth in the number of community college transfers and graduate students.

Western’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning reported Tuesday, Sept. 4, that WCU’s total student headcount is 9,055 this fall.

“We are seeing significant trends that tell us a lot about the direction of the university,” Chancellor John W. Bardo said. “We have experienced an increase of about 27 percent in the number of community college transfers this fall, and the number of students taking courses through distance education programs is up about 20 percent.

“Overall graduate school enrollment, which includes both traditional and distance education classes, has increased to 1,945 students this fall, up 230 from last year’s enrollment.

Bardo attributed much of the increase in community college transfer enrollment to the Western 2-Step program, a cooperative agreement launched in May that aligns course requirements at WCU and all 58 community colleges across North Carolina so that students will know exactly what to expect when they transfer to Western.

Enrollment for first-time freshmen is down slightly, but the overall grade-point average for entering freshmen is 3.35, up from last year’s GPA of 3.26.

“We are making a decided effort to bring our admission standards up,” Bardo said. “When we enroll the right type of students – those who are better prepared academically and who are a better ‘fit’ with the university – they will be more likely to stay in school and remain on track to graduate.”