WIU enrollment down nearly 600 students, officials shift focus to strengthen class profiles

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 5:47 PM CDT
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MACOMB (WGEM) - Enrollment at Western Illinois University is roughly 600 students lower than last fall. In a 10th day data release, the total student head count for this fall sits at 7,073 students compared to last fall’s 7,643 students.

While overall enrollment is down, the university is seeing 27% of all freshman have a GPA of at least 3.9, a 5% increase from last year. Mores students, freshman and transfer, are enrolled in the Honor’s College, 139, a 30% hike from last year.

Interim Vice President for Student Success John Smith said WIU is starting to focus more on the class-profile, or students that carry a higher GPA.

”The lower in the class profile you go, the more resources those students often need to be successful,” Smith said. “With resource scarcity I think many regional schools are starting to look at ways to improve the class profile so that students are successful, graduate on time and have a good experience.”

Starting this year, Smith said the university is releasing students that carry a 0.0 GPA. Smith said a majority of last year’s enrollment growth came from bottom tier students, and he wants to reverse that.

He said they’re looking to diversify the student population by attracting more than just freshman.

“I think those of us that are able to look at what our goals and our mission is and how we accomplish that and set those goals realistically will allow us to be successful,” Smith said.

Transfer retention sits at 73% while freshman retention is 58%. Focusing on a high-profile class, Smith said, could grow retention rates, too.

He said he could see enrollment taking another drop one year from now, but he’d be happy with stabilization.

“You could interview probably all the state regional schools and we would all be happy with stabilized enrollment,” Smith said.

Click here for WIU enrollment history.

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