OGDEN — Weber State University's enrollment has increased for the third year in a row according to recently released data.
Headcount enrollment increased by about 1 percent, from 27,949 last year to 28,247 as of the third week of school for the fall 2018 semester. This is the third year in a row the school has seen record-breaking enrollment numbers. In fact, enrollment has increased by 32 percent over the course of the last 10 years.
Associate Provost for Enrollment Services Bruce Bowen said Weber is interested in slow and steady growth as extreme increases or decreases in enrollment are hard to manage.
“We have capacity and growing enrollment allows the institution to serve more students, helping them with their educational dreams,” he said. “That helps individuals and the community as a whole.”
A substantial portion of the university’s students are in fact high school students who are taking courses for college credit, also known as concurrent enrollment. This fall, 9,333 Weber State students are attending through concurrent enrollment alone, making up 33 percent of the student body.
Bowen said he expects that number to get even bigger over the course of the school year, nearing 10,000 as more high school students enroll.
“At some point in time it becomes overwhelming but I don’t think we’ve hit that point yet,” he said. “We will continue to grow and look for opportunities to offer more subject areas at particular high schools.”
The concurrent enrollment program is funded in part by the Utah Legislature and was established in 1988. In 2017, half the state's graduating high school students had taken at least one concurrent enrollment course, according to the state's Concurrent Enrollment Annual Report.
At Weber State, there are about 5,000 more students in a concurrent enrollment course now than there were a decade ago. Since last year alone, 212 more students have signed up.
According to Weber State spokeswoman Allison Barlow Hess, students pay a $30 admission fee and an additional $5 per credit hour for each class. Most college courses are three credits.
“It’s terrific for students in high school to earn college credit,” Bowen said. “It’s also a way for first generation students who don’t have older members who have gone to college to explore what that’s like.”
Bowen said concurrent enrollment courses are taught in high schools by adjunct Weber State professors. He said the ultimate goal is for these students to eventually attend as full-time students.
In fact, there are more concurrent enrollment students than there are in many of the school's departments put together. Two of the largest pieces of the pie — engineering, applied science and technology and general studies/non-degree seeking — host 2,990 and 2,208 students respectively, far below the more than 9,000 high school students taking college courses.
Technology plays a big part in making concurrent enrollment work. For example, Kim Murphy teaches a Weber State computer science course to Ben Lomond High School students via video conference.
“They each have microphones and webcams and I have a camera on me and on the whiteboard,” she said.
A high school teacher works with those students in-person while Murphy simultaneously teaches that class in person to students from the Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering and Science, more commonly known as NUAMES. She hopes one day they all pursue higher education.
“Computer programing is huge, so if they can get that degree there is zero unemployment,” she said.
For several years, Weber State's student body has been made up of more part time than full-time students. That continues to be the case this fall with 58 percent enrolled as part time and 42 percent enrolled as full time. Concurrent enrollment students are typically considered part time unless they're taking numerous classes.
Bowen said the school has numerous support services specifically for part-time students, including academic advisors, veteran services and the Hourly Child Care Center. Instructors also use a program called Starfish to help identify poor attenders and poor performers for early intervention.
“People rally around to try and help them work through that particular challenge from the academic side to support services,” Bowen said.
To be considered full time at Weber State, undergraduate students have to enroll in 12 credits per semester. This typically equates to four courses. Full time equivalent enrollment, which is an approximation of how many full-time students there are, reached 17,422 this fall, a 1 percent increase from 17,183 in fall 2017.
Both headcount and FTE enrollment increased this year at six of the eight public higher education institutions in Utah. Two of the largest increases were seen at Southern Utah University and Utah Valley University. SUU saw an enrollment spike of 728 students, increasing enrollment by about 8 percent. UVU's enrollment increased by 2,649 students, boosting attendance by 7 percent. Systemside enrollment increased by 2 percent reaching 183,949.
Weber State continues to be predominantly caucasian with 74 percent of students self-reporting in that category. A total of 2,206 students registered as Hispanic, making up 12 percent of the student body. This is a less than 1 percent increase from the year prior.
The student body is made up of 55 percent women and 45 percent men this fall. There have been more women than men attending the college for the last five years.