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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

University Of Wyoming Enrollment Drops Three Percent, But First-Time, Graduate Enrollment Grows

Old Main building at University of Wyoming
By ProgWork1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

University of Wyoming (UW) enrollment is down this year, having dropped three percent from this time last year. That's a decrease of 350 students from a student body of less than 12,000.

Final figures for the fall 2021 semester show a decrease in all undergraduate classes from freshmen to seniors, as well as a decrease in transfer students.

But UW Vice Provost for Enrollment Kyle Moore said the number of students enrolling for the first time actually rose.

First-time enrollment, which went up, is distinct from freshman enrollment, which went down. "Freshman" refers to any student with fewer than 30 credit hours, not just those enrolling for the first time.

This distinction helps UW tease out where enrollment is dropping and where it's increasing.

"The vast majority of the decline is from the continuing student population," Moore said. "Those students who have had impacts related to COVID and who have experienced life situations and challenges that put them in a situation of needing to press pause on progress toward a degree."

Community colleges are also experiencing a drop in enrollment, and because most transfer students at UW come from community colleges, transfer student enrollment was down at the university by 6.5 percent.

Universities across the country are facing similar enrollment declines.

On the other hand, there’s been an increase in the number of students seeking advanced degrees; graduate enrollment went up by about 5 percent.

Moore said even before the pandemic, grad school enrollment usually grows when the economy is bad.

"Oftentimes, individuals will be looking to retool, upskill and refine their value in the marketplace by coming back to school for a higher degree," he said. "And that's certainly been the case over the last 18 months."

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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