Enrollment numbers have been steadily going up each year. This year, enrollment increased by 3% for new undergraduate students. New enrollment increased from 3,260 to 3,348 students. More classes are being added, along with more teachers and facilities to keep up with all the students coming in.
CWU President James L. Gaudino is pleased with the amount of students coming in. CWU is here to serve the state of Washington and based on social and economic needs, Washington educates more of its residents than enrollments from other states, according to Gaudino. Washington is one of the lowest ranked states in the country for the percentage of its residents seeking a college degree.
“We feel that it is part of our responsibility … to increase opportunities for people who live in the state, who pay taxes in the state and who are more likely to stay in the state, and if they get a degree from [CWU] … live as we say in our mission, enlightened, productive and responsible lives,” Gaudino said.
There are other universities that are growing in the state and all the universities in Washington are taking on the responsibility of reaching out to more students. CWU is one of the most transfer-receptive schools in the state, according to Gaudino. A lot of students take the path of going to a community college where they grow up for one or two years and then transfer to a residential university, like CWU.
Enrollment growth comes in different ways and not just from students enrolling in the Ellensburg campus. CWU offers degree programs at community colleges, which is where a portion of the enrollment growth is coming from, according to Gaudino. Managing the growth between the Ellensburg campus, the university centers and online classes is a challenge, according to Gaudino.
Morgan Burrell, a senior majoring in actuarial science, thinks CWU is too crowded. Burrell does not think CWU has kept up with all the incoming students in terms of infrastructure and classes available.
“Sometimes there are not enough teachers for a class,” Burrel said. “I know someone who had to delay their graduation because they couldn’t get into a class because it was full.”
Gaudino said CWU is prepared for the enrollment growth and there is a strategic enrollment management plan in place. CWU has a financial plan that drives the tuition revenue primarily to the academic and student life units.
The state is giving CWU money to increase the capacity for teacher education along with health and wellness services for the students. In the last 10 years, around $250 million has been put into new academic buildings to increase the capacity for students, according to Gaudino. That money has been put into housing for the students along with more room for classes.
Gaudino said he thinks of enrollment as a headcount because for each class a student takes, they become another person the school has to account for capacity wise. He said they also look for how many credit hours students are taking to plan for capacity so that students can get into the classes they need. A lot of the times more capacity will mean hiring more faculty, opening another section of classes and advising students better, according to Gaudino.
A challenging factor in determining enrollment capacity is students who are undeclared or switch their majors. It is hard to plan in advance the sections that CWU has to have because students are experimenting early on in their academic careers, according to Gaudino. CWU looks at historical trends to determine the number of faculty needed.
There are around 60 new incoming students each year. CWU is currently doing a capacity analysis. The first stage of the analysis is determining how much space CWU has for students in classes. The second stage is determining the maximum number of hours in a day that classes can occur. Students usually prefer to take classes between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to Gaudino.
Based on the strategic enrollment plan, CWU Ellensburg campus is planning for a total enrollment of around 12,000 students as their capacity. Off campus centers and online classes allow for more students because their hours are more flexible during the day. In total, including online classes, centers and the Ellensburg campus, the capacity for enrollment is around 14,000 students.
With enrollment going up, the staff and faculty will also go up, according to Gaudino. Some majors will reach capacity before other majors do because there is only a certain number of facilities students can use that pertains to their major. There is only a certain number of labs, music rooms, ensembles, student media positions and so forth.
CWU also has to take into account how students will be changing and what they will want in 10 or 15 years from now, according to Gaudino. The job market will also change which will be a variable. It is hard for CWU to determine exactly how to plan for the future when there are so many moving variables, according to Gaudino.
Vice President of Public Affairs Kremiere Jackson, said CWU is being very strategic about how they market to students to get them to enroll. She is working very closely with enrollment management in terms of what location students want to be at. CWU is also doing a lot more social media, texting and geo marketing than they use to. CWU is advertising in high schools and K-12schools so that students know about college education before they are seniors in high school.