It’s official: Western enrollment is up 11 percent over last year

CULLOWHEE – The registration rolls are closed, the final numbers are in, and it’s official – student enrollment at Western Carolina University has hit an all-time high of 8,396 for the 2004 fall semester, an 11 percent increase over last fall’s enrollment of 7,561.

That’s according to the official university report compiled for the Office of the President of The University of North Carolina system.

Western has experienced enrollment increases in all categories of students this fall, including freshmen, transfer, continuing undergraduate, graduate and distance education students, said Troy Barksdale, director of university planning.

“Perhaps the most dramatic increase is in the freshman retention rate,” said Barksdale. “Seventy-four percent of last year’s freshman class has returned to campus this year, compared to a freshman retention rate of 69 percent the year before.”

The size of Western’s freshman class increased by 5.6 percent (from 1,495 in 2003 to 1,578 in 2004); new transfer students are up 56.2 percent (from 422 to 659); continuing undergraduate students are up 20.6 percent (from 3,542 to 4,273); re-entering students are up 23.3 percent (from 223 to 275); and graduate students are up 9.3 percent (from 1,474 to 1,611). Western also received a record number of freshman applications (4,909) this year.

“The record enrollment we are enjoying is the result of the efforts of so many people at the university,” said Chancellor John W. Bardo. “The Office of Admissions staff has worked hard to recruit the right kind of students, the faculty and student support services folks have worked hard to keep the students enrolled and on target to graduate, the Residential Living staff has enhanced the attractiveness of on-campus-housing, and the Graduate School has worked hard to increase the number of graduate students. It has been a real team effort.”