423 New Gorloks
Enrollment numbers throughout universities in Missouri are increasingly high for the freshmen class this fall. However, this cannot be said for Webster University because the numbers are relatively low compared to the last three years.
As of Sept. 7, after the drop/ add deadline, there were 423 freshmen this fall compared to last year’s 468. This number made this year’s freshmen class the second lowest group of students after Webster reached its record-high number of 503 students in 2007.
Andrew Laue, director of Undergraduate Admissions, said there isn’t a particular reason why the numbers are low when they are always going to fluctuate, especially with the uncertainty with the economy.
“We understand that some people are trying to save money and that some students are attracted to junior colleges their first few years because of the cost at larger institutions.”
When comparing Webster to other universities, like the University of Missouri-Columbia, their numbers are up and are not demonstrating any negative affects by the current recession. For example, Mizzou brought in nearly 10 percent more freshmen students than last year, while the University of Missouri-St. Louis was up by three percent.
According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Aug. 23, the increase in enrollment at most universities are due in part to the fact that the state recently experienced its largest high school graduating class.
“With the children of baby boomers moving through the system…most schools looked toward this enrollment,” the article stated.
However, Webster was not among the universities to reap the benefits of the large group of recent high school graduates.
Laue said that Webster isn’t about solely focusing on the number of students but choosing the right type of students who will fit in the community.
“Because the university is a small classroom setting and intimate environment, the school isn’t going to appeal to every student,” Laue said.
Ryan Garlich, a freshman business management major, said he likes Webster because he gets to know the professor instead of being one of 400 in a lecture hall.
“Teachers recognize you when they see you outside of class and know you by name, which makes you more comfortable when you need to ask for help,” Garlich said.
Despite the overall decrease in numbers, some departments experienced an increase in numbers, such as the 90 student-athletes in the Athletics department, the 40 biology freshmen majors and the 60 conservatory students. Most freshmen arrive at Webster with undeclared majors and others sometimes change their majors, which causes the fluctuation of numbers in the departments.
The Undergraduate Admissions office has various methods of reaching out to high school students, Laue said. The office, for example, sends out representatives to various college fairs and high schools, mail out pamphlets via their ACT and SAT questionnaires, and have open house events on-campus.
“Our number one goal is to identify and get students who are comfortable with Webster to attend the university,” Laue said.