Total enrollment remains stable
Western State College freshman admissions are up by 11 percent for the 2007/08 school year, and admissions director Tim Albers attributes the rise to aggressive recruiting efforts.
“In years past we contacted about 20,000 potential students,” he says. “This year we contacted 60,000.”
At just under 2,200, the overall student body enrollment is slightly down this year, but apparently the heightened recruiting efforts are paying dividends, because the freshman class boasts about 55 more students this year than last year.
“We’ve been working it quite a bit harder,” says Albers.
Albers says the college would ultimately like to increase its overall enrollment by approximately 600 students, to an average of 2,800.
According to Albers, there are two reasons for this. The first is to achieve more fiscal stability. "Western State has always been fiscally stable, but a few more students would put us into a better position," he says.
The other reason, says Albers, is that a richer collegiate experience can be generated if the student body comes from a wide array of geographical locations and backgrounds.
“The broader the range of experiences, the better off we are,” he says.
Western State’s vice president of administration and finance Brad Baca said the increased size of the freshman class is a positive trend.
“This is the second year in a row that we’ve seen an increase,” he says.
Baca says the increase in freshmen should translate into a gain in overall enrollment.
The positive freshman enrollment trend could also result in a bonus for area businesses, since more students mean more local commerce. According to a study commissioned by the college in 2005, Western State was projected to add $65.3 million to the local economy for 2006/07, of which student and college visitor spending would account for $26 million.
The study also found that Western State generates 859 jobs in the county.
With Western State’s efforts to grow, Albers says he would like to see a diversified domestic student body, so he intends to step up recruitment in regions of the United States that aren’t traditionally attracted to the Colorado campus.
“We’ve always been strong in the northeast, but I’d like to attract a few more students from the mid-Atlantic region and the south,” he says.
Albers would also like to see more out-of-state students.
“Ideally, we’d like to have about 65 percent in-state students to 35 percent out-of-state students,” he says. Currently about 24 percent of Western State students are from out-of-state.
Assistant director of campus life Janna Hansen also advocates increased student diversity. Hansen oversees Western State’s foreign student body, including 20 students from around the world.
The majority of the foreign students, according to Hansen, are athletes. “Most are cross-country runners, or skiers,” she says.
Western State boasts runners from Kenya and Hungary, as well as skiers from Canada and New Zealand, Hansen says.
Hansen says it is important for an institution of higher education to recruit foreign students in order to provide students with different world views.
“I think it’s especially important for a small, isolated campus like Western to have diversity,” she says.
Hansen also believes higher education in the United States needs to reassert itself as an international leader.
“I want our American students to become citizens of the world,” she says.
Albers says he would like to see Western State make a greater effort to attract foreign students.
“We would like to find a way to get more students from countries that have strong recreation industries,” he says.
Albers notes that recreation is the biggest industry in the United States, and he feels Western State is particularly suited for students interested in careers in recreation.
“Recreational stuff will probably be our niche,” he says.