December 14, 2018

Webster records its largest incoming class of first-time freshmen in school history

Webster University welcomed 525 first-time freshmen to campus August 28, a record-breaking number of students. The class represents a 21 percent enrollment increase from the last academic year and the largest freshman class in Webster history. 

Reasons for increase

The university attributes the increase to a variety of factors. Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Robert Parrent said one of the top reasons to new academic opportunities such as the addition of a new chemistry major.    

“We have Tony Wallner, who is the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Dean Wallner is a chemist by profession and trade,” Parrent said. “What that means is that he brings a whole new dimension of academic opportunity to the university.”

Changes also include an increase in targeted marketing and recruitment, budget cuts from publicly funded colleges in Missouri and the introduction of Browning Hall, the new interdisciplinary science building (ISB). The new building was completed on August 18 and held some of its first classes August 28.

Webster President Elizabeth Stroble said another factor is the new methods of receiving financial aid. Students can now submit their FAFSA as early as their junior year of high school. This allowed prospective students to view financial aid packages sooner and make a money-conscious decision.   

“Webster was really active in working with high school students to say this is new, this is great and we are going to give out a lot of financial aid based on your financial need,” Stroble said. “You can know right away what your scholarship package will look like and you can make the decision to come to Webster.” 



Freshmen students form a ‘W’ for the annual New Student Orientation photo. PC: Webster Marketing Department

The growth

Each school and college throughout Webster saw an increase in freshmen, particularly the School of Communications (SOC) and the College of Arts and Sciences. The SOC gained 136 new first-time students, up 24 from the last academic school year. The College of Arts and Sciences added 131 new students. 

Parrent said while the growth between the SOC and the College of Arts and Sciences is significant, all five schools and colleges are growing with this new class of freshmen.  He said it is a growth that allows for the same quality of education, ratio of students to professors and classroom and lab space. 

“We are managing our growth and not growing for the sake of growing,” Parrent said.

Programs with the greatest  increase are communications, journalism, psychology and biology. Psychology and biology are housed in the new ISB building. The new building provides more classroom space to allow for this increase in student numbers. Increase in the quality of student.

Administration noticed an increase in the qualification of students, in addition to record breaking numbers. 

The average GPA of the 2021 class is 3.5, which is up from 3.46 the last academic year.  The average ACT score sits at 24 and the university is seeing fewer undeclared majors by 10 students.  The incoming class contains 65 more students from the state of Missouri, 17 new student athletes and 20 new international students.         

Webster provost Julian Schuster said in a press release that by researching high school students, Webster can work to provide the necessary tools and resources needed for academic success. 

“We have attracted more qualified and diverse undergraduates who have a stronger determination for their future career paths,” Schuster said.  “We have researched what students are looking for in higher education and are responding to those needs and making sure we have the financial tools and academic resources available to make Webster University a successful experience for them.” 

Additionally, each year, five presidential scholars are chosen from each class based on academic merit, their fit with Webster core values and an on-campus competition.  This year, Webster University offered 15 presidential scholarships and ten of these students decided Webster was their school of choice. 

“In this class this year, there were people who elected to go to Harvard, MIT and that is who we are competing with, with this class,” Parrent said. “We are getting more, we are getting better.  It speaks for itself.”

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