Western hits record enrollment: Student population reaches new high, estimates over 6,000

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Enrollment at Missouri Western has increased again this year for the sixth year.  The official numbers won’t be in until the fourth week of classes, but the enrollment this year is over 6,000 for the first time and is expected to be somewhere between 6,100 and 6,200 students. Last year the enrollment was slightly above the 5,700 mark.

Dr. Robert Vartabedian, president of Missouri Western State University, says that enrollment is up in terms of head count and credit hour production.

“The number of students and how many hours they are taking is certainly up,” Vartabedian said. “It is the largest increase since my arrival here.  An 8-10 percent increase in both categories.”

Growth has been a positive thing for Missouri Western in most aspects.  The extra tuition and fees from the students generates some much needed extra income for the university.  According to Jeanne Daffron, Provost of the University, growth is very good thing.

“I think it is very good for Western and for the region,” Daffron said. “We want to be responsive to those who want to be at Western.  I think it is good for the institution overall and we are pleased that students are choosing Western. It is very good for the state of Missouri and for our region. It is very important that we have educated citizens.”

Walk-in registration helped Western reach the milestone of 6,000 students. Photo | Dave Hon

The increase in enrollment is happening for a number of reasons.  According to Vartabedian, when the economy is down there are more students enrolling because of the lack of jobs available.  According to experts there are three top reasons why a university experiences growth: finances, reputation of university and look of the campus.

“We have certainly made headway in all three of those areas,” Vartabedian said. “We give lots of scholarships and we have worked hard on enhancing the look of our campus with new buildings, signage, and evergreen trees.  What we have done has been consistent with what experts say will enhance enrollment.”

Growth has not come without some challenges.  In the residence halls there are more demands for housing than the university can currently accommodate.  Construction on new residence halls has begun in some areas. In some cases they have added more students to classes, although class size remains relatively the same.  There are also more evening classes offered than before.

Although graduation numbers in Missouri high schools are down it seems that people are increasingly aware of the value of a college education thus continued growth in enrollment is expected according to Vartabedian. He visions continued growth of enrollment at Western.

“My guess is that we are probably going to continue to grow and there is significant potential for growth given the fact we are a university of pretty decent size and we have a close proximity to large metropolitan areas,” Vartabedian said.  “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have pretty significant growth for the next couple of years.”

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