WMU sees significant gains in number of beginners, out-of-state students

Contact: Cheryl Roland

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University has seen a dramatic increase in its number of out-of-state students this fall as well as a strong overall surge in the number of new undergraduates and a significant boost to the academic profile of incoming students.

Total fall 2017 enrollment stands at 22,893—down 1.5 percent from the fall 2016 total of 23,252. Graduate enrollment was up slightly to 4,958 students, while undergraduate enrollment was down slightly at 17,935 students.

The final WMU census numbers reflect a 5.1 percent increase in the number of beginning undergraduate students—to 3,179 this year, compared with 3,026 last year. This year's freshman class comes from 65 Michigan counties and 29 other states. More than 42 percent of them have a high school GPA of 3.5 or above, compared with 37 percent the previous year.

Undergraduate nonresident domestic enrollment—students from other U.S. states—rose by 30.8 percent this fall, and out-of-state graduate numbers grew by 14 percent. Those figures reflect increased marketing efforts beyond Michigan's borders, as well as a change to the University's out-of-state undergraduate tuition structure. Michigan students, however, continue to account for 85 percent of WMU's total student population.

"This is an encouraging enrollment report with many positive developments," says WMU President Edward Montgomery. "This year's efforts to boost out-of-state enrollment and increase the number of beginning students obviously paid off. These two strong developments, along with the academic strength of the students we're attracting, will have an impact on overall WMU enrollment numbers over the next several years and will affect our retention and graduation rates."

Among additional elements of the fall census was a surprisingly strong showing in international enrollment. Although colleges and universities around the nation have reported steep, double-digit decreases this year in the number of international applications they've received, WMU saw a much more modest downturn in applications. The fall enrollment numbers now in hand show the University has 1,881 international students from 96 countries studying on campus—up from 1,849 international students last year. That's an increase of nearly 1.7 percent.

Additional fall enrollment highlights

  • A continuing increase in WMU's minority student population, which increased to 23 percent of the student body this fall, up from 22 percent last year.
  • Continuing growth in the size of the Lee Honors College, which attracted a record incoming class of 501 students to hit a total enrollment of 1,745.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.