Although official census data has not been finalized at William Woods University, preliminary enrollment figures show nearly 1,000 traditional undergraduate students studying on the Fulton campus and a total enrollment of 3,990 students.
Information is being calculated for the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which collects and reports enrollment figures for all institutions of higher education.
While new student on-campus enrollment at William Woods University remains steady this year at 265, evening and online enrollment increased by 8.5 and 17 percent respectively.
“We are holding strong with enrollment numbers, and I am particularly pleased with the growth of our evening and online enrollment,” Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president, said. “I also am proud to say we continue to experience a strong retention rate; once our students enroll, they want to stay.”
According to U.S. News, “As many as one in three first-year students doesn’t make it back for sophomore year.” The retention rate at William Woods is nearly 80 percent.
Barnett shared what she called the “good news about the entering class of 2015” – 16 students have received the WWU merit scholarship (full tuition) with a 30 or higher on their ACT or SAT equivalent.
Nineteen states and 10 foreign countries are represented in the incoming class, and overall, nearly every state is represented in WWU’s enrollment, with Missouri, Illinois, California, Indiana and Texas being the top five.
Overall, international students come from 24 countries—Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, England, France, India, Jamaica, Jordan, Malawi, Moldova, Netherlands, Paraguay, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, Taiwan, Ukraine and Zambia.
The incoming class includes 30 students with alumni connections. Barnett attributed the large number of “legacies” to the positive experience their siblings, parents or other relatives had at William Woods.
Students continue to select a professions-oriented curriculum, and are increasingly interested in WWU’s graduate program after completing their undergraduate degrees. Top intended majors for the incoming class are American Sign Language-English interpreting, business administration and equestrian science. Another strong program is biology, where the number of students interested in pre-veterinary medicine has risen exponentially.
Incoming students seem to be focused on their professional goals.
“They have put more preparation and thinking into where they want to be and what they want to do after college, and they are looking for fields that will offer them job stability. They are more outgoing, more independent, self-reliant and ready to stretch their wings,” Barnett said.
One of the ways students are encouraged to “stretch their wings” is through the school’s innovative LEAD (Leading, Educating, Achieving and Developing) program. This fall marks the 14th anniversary of the creation of LEAD.
The program provides awards to any incoming student who agrees to make a commitment to campus and community involvement through a tuition reduction of $5,000 annually for residential students and $2,500 annually to commuter students.
LEAD is intended to encourage and reward the types of activities that make for a complete, well-rounded liberal arts background. The impact of the successful LEAD program, coupled with the popularity of WWU’s evening, graduate and online programs, has contributed to steady growth for William Woods University.