One year after Western Carolina University’s spring semester enrollment topped 10,000 for the first time, the head count for spring has set yet another seasonal high mark, with a total of 10,229 students on the university rolls.
That increase of 1.29 percent in spring enrollment, up 130 students from last year’ total of 10,099, is included in census data compiled by WCU’s Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness following the completion of the 10th day of spring classes, which is known as “census day.” The numbers are considered preliminary until they have been rechecked and files sent to the University of North Carolina System Office.
The surge in spring enrollment follows a corresponding jump in enrollment that occurred last fall semester. Census data in September revealed that WCU’s fall enrollment surpassed 11,000 for the first time, totaling 11,034 students. That was an increase of 229 students and a 2.1 percent jump over the fall 2016 tally of 10,805.
Spring enrollment numbers at higher education institutions typically are lower than fall enrollment numbers because some students complete their degree requirements during their fall classes and other students do not return in the spring for a variety of reasons, said Tim Metz, WCU assistant vice chancellor for institutional planning and effectiveness.
A factor behind the record spring semester enrollment, in addition to the impetus provided by a record fall enrollment, is a higher percentage of first-semester freshmen who returned for their second semesters, Metz said. This year’s fall-to-spring freshman retention rate is 91.72 percent, up slightly over last year’s rate of 91.37 percent. Higher fall-to-spring rates of retention for freshmen often indicate that a larger percentage of students will return for their second year of study the following fall, he said.
Prospective students who could wind up being a part of WCU’s freshman class next fall will be visiting campus in the coming weeks. The university will hold Open House events on two Saturdays – Feb. 24 and March 24 – to give those students and their families an opportunity to tour the campus, learn about the university’s award-winning programs and find out about important topics such as financial aid.