This year, Washburn University welcomed the largest “direct from high school” freshman class in university history. The 830 new students coming directly to Washburn from high school was up 5 percent from last year’s class. What’s more, dual-enrolled students – students who are taking classes while still in high school – saw a major 24.4 percent jump to 830 students this year.
Overall headcount on the traditional university campus was up modestly with growth just under 1 percent.
Washburn Tech showed significant growth this year with total headcount climbing to 1,393 – up 4.3 percent from last year. Combined, the headcount at the two campuses grew to university-wide total of 8,084, an increase of 1.4 percent.
“We are particularly pleased with the growth in the number of students coming to us directly from high school,” said President Jerry Farley. “Those students persist to graduation at a higher rate and they are more likely to stay in the area after graduation.”
In addition, Farley noted, the number of dual-enrolled students mean that more high school students can get a head start on their college career by earning Washburn University credits while still in high school.
“Advanced placement classes give the student a chance to take a test to earn college credits,” Farley said. “A student who is dual-enrolled earns actual college credits by taking an enhanced curriculum taught by faculty who meet Washburn’s standards – just as if they took the class on our campus.
“We also look to recruit some of those students to continue their higher education at Washburn,” he said, “but they can take that Washburn transcript nearly anywhere they would like to go.”
Washburn Tech showed growth in many programs but the largest increases came in two new offerings – cosmetology and certified production technology – along with a building technology program that nearly doubled in size this year.
“Enrollments in Washburn Tech’s programs mirror the needs in local business and industry,” Farley said. “That is precisely what Tech is designed to do.”
For instance, Farley said, Washburn Tech stepped in to quickly create a cosmetology program after two local for-profit schools abruptly closed last year.
“We were able to absorb many of those students,” he said, “but our more affordable pricing and access to financial aid helped that program grow beyond the size of both of those previous schools combined.”
As a result, the cosmetology program has added new classes and additional faculty to meet the demand. Tech also saw major growth in building technology and production technology which both lead to employment in major growth fields.
Farley did note that overall university enrollment was dampened a bit by a decline in the number of transfer students. While Washburn’s market share remained consistent, the number of students graduating from community colleges is down statewide thus shrinking the available transfer pool.
He also noted that – while the number of traditional-age freshmen is up – the university remains strongly committed to serving non-traditional students as well.
“We are expanding the number of online classes and have several degrees which can be completed entirely online,” he said. “Our RN to BSN program and our master’s degree in communication and leadership are both online programs, designed for those already in the workplace and you will see more programs like those in the coming months.
“In addition, we are seeing many students coming to both campuses looking to add technical skills to make themselves more attractive in the workplace,” he added.