West Texas A&M University spring enrollment down, retention rates rise for freshmen and sophomores

VIDEO: West Texas A&M University spring enrollment down, retention rates rise for freshmen
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 6:16 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - WTAMU is seeing success with its ‘Start Strong’ initiative, seeing retention rates for freshmen and sophomores continue to rise.

The university retained 90% of its freshman fall class to the spring semester, more than 4% higher than last springs enrollment.

“We have the Start Strong initiative, we are also working and putting together the journey to the buffalo which our retention numbers are looking really great and it show that we’re really making an impact for students and enabling them to persist from one semester to the next,” said Chance Haugen, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, WTAMU.

WT says the Start Strong initiative is not the only thing increasing rates but also accredits moving back to normalcy after 2020.

“We’re kind of in a recovery mode nationwide. The pandemic impacted enrollment for everyone, and we didn’t actually see too much of a decline compared to others, but we are bouncing back now. Our numbers for undergrad in particularly are really strong especially for our freshmen and our sophomores classes,” said Michael Knox. Vice President for Enrollment Management, WTAMU.

WT says it’s seeing a normal drop in overall enrollment this spring semester - with under-grad numbers slightly up - and graduate student numbers dropping significantly.

Knox says the spring semester usually sees a dip in enrollment but the university expects numbers to rise in the fall.

“As the economy and jobs are strong our enrollment will sometimes struggle a little bit, not that we want to go into a recession but if that were to come, typically, that would show especially grad students coming back to get those promotion degrees,” said Knox.

Retention rates for freshmen to sophomore are continuing to rise for WT.

“Freshman to sophomore year retention rates were the highest ever been last fall and this spring, they’re even higher than the numbers that were last spring. Our classes are doing very well from kind of from the bottom up,” said Knox.

WT reports retention rates rose over four percent now retaining 90% of freshmen students, even seeing the number of students living on campus rise to 94%.

“In the residence halls, we’re also seeing the same numbers in terms of retention from fall to spring, and then from fall to fall,” said Haugen.

West Texas A&M believes retaining students starts early with helping students feel more at home from the beginning.

“It’s important that they are able to be successful in the classroom and they’re going to they’re going to work real hard in the classroom, but it’s also important that they can find our people and really find a sense of belonging beyond the classroom,” said Haugen.