Central welcomes largest freshmen class since 2010


Jonathan Glover

Source: John Swiney of Enrollment Services

Jonathan Glover, News Editor

If you noticed Central’s campus is a little more crowded than last year, you’re not alone . After last year’s record low enrollment, this fall’s incoming first-year students is Central’s largest since 2010.

“In the history of Central, there have only been three classes over 1,600 [students],” said John Swiney, associate vice president of enrollment management. “This year is tied with or close to the absolute record.”

According to enrollment management data 4,038 potential students were accepted this academic year, of which 1,646 enrolled at Central. This is a 20 percent increase from 1,363 students last year. That brings Central’s total enrollment up to 10,700 students.

Swiney partly attributes the increase of enrolled students to the high number of recent high school graduates.

Other four-year universities such as Western Washington University and Eastern Washington University announced large classes this year as well, he said.

Swiney also attributes a larger than normal freshman class to Central’s recent contract with Royall & Company–an enrollment management service which specializes in recruiting potential students.

“They do millions of dollars a year in research on how to get high school students to respond to university recruitment,” Swiney said.

Over the next five years, Central projects their student application rate to increase from 7.4 percent to 8.3 as a result of their contract with Royall. They also project a freshman enrollment of 1,737 students next fall.


Admittance changes

One of the side effects of low enrollment usually means relaxed requirements for admittance. For Central, this meant an 87 percent acceptance rate–the highest for Washington

State four-year universities.

According to The College Board, Central’s acceptance rate was 2 percent higher than Western Washington University and 7 percent higher than Washington State University. Students applying to Central are 32 percent more likely to get in over University of Washington; Washington state most selective four-year university with a 55 percent acceptance rate.

This year, Swiney said Central has reduced its acceptance rate to around 81 percent. He said the increased student enrollment allowed Central to be more selective, but that Enrollment Management watches this rate closely as to not alienate Central’s target demographic of a round a 3.15 GPA student.

“If you go lower than your profile, you could end up losing those students,” Swiney said. “It needs to be a successful experience for the university and the students.”


Tuition reduction

In a historical move, the Washington State Legislature voted to reduce tuition for the 2015-2017 biennium after years of increases and a tuition freeze in 2013 and 2014 for all state universities.

For the 2015-2016 school year, tuition has been reduced by 5 percent, and again by another 15 percent in 2016-2017. This means an initial tuition reduction from $7,593 to $6,897.

Whether or not this change in tuition will affect enrollment at Central isn’t known yet, though Swiney hypothesizes it could play a role.

“At first look, it does seem like reduced tuition is leading to higher enrollment,” Swiney said. “Maybe students are choosing to go to a four-year school rather than a community college first.”