UWSP campuses see uptick of incoming freshmen
By Kris Leonhardt
STEVENS POINT – The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campuses are seeing an uptick in first year enrollment as the school begins its 2020-21 school year.
“Our main campus is looking at an increase in our freshman class of 30 percent. For Marshfield, we are looking at an increase in our freshman class of 4 percent, and then Wausau, an increase of about 34 percent,” said University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Office of Admissions and Recruitment Director Marc Young.
Young said that the main campus saw a 400-student increase for the fall of 2020 and an increase in Marshfield of three students, while Wausau is seeing about 55 additional students.
Factors for the enrollment uptick could include the schools increased learning models, students desiring to stay closer to home, or what Young refers to as a “robust review” of the college’s admissions and recruitment plan and tactics.
“We’ve joined forces with our marketing team,” he explained. “We’ve just really dug into the data behind our admissions activity, our application data, and our admissions data, and that’s really helped us make informed decisions about where we should go and get the students who are most likely to attend UWSP.”
Recruitment tactics used to help increase first-year student enrollment, include: transformed continuous improvement through training and relationship building with students and families; optimized recruitment and communication through data driven analysis; and analyzed financial modeling to leverage scholarship opportunities.
Young added that the COVID environment has the possibility to affect the enrollment numbers both positively and negatively.
“(Enrollment) numbers are subject to change (due to) COVID,” Young added. “We are watching our enrollment very closely, because we know that with a subtle change or a spike in COVID cases that there could be a little bit more reluctancy for students to enroll; and we’ve heard from students who are maybe looking to take gap years, or others who are gung ho about this fall semester and plan to be in person so long as we offer that modality.”
“We are seeing students who are electing to stay closer to home, and we’ve also seen students that are coming to us from Illinois and still locked into the university. So, it is hard to gauge right now, but we plan to do some surveying here at the beginning of the school year, once the students ultimately enroll and get into those first couple of courses, to do some surveying to gauge the impact of COVID for those who do enroll and don’t enroll as well.”
Megan Schmidt, of Edgar, is an incoming freshman in communication sciences and disorders program. After previously declining admission to the college, the Stratford High School graduate decided on UWSP, which is closer to home for Schmidt.
“Originally I wanted to go to UW Eau Claire but with current situations, I decided that UW-Stevens Point was going to be a better fit for me,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said that she continues to look forward to the college experience.
“I am looking forward to meeting new people and getting a start on my career path with wonderful opportunities that UWSP offers,” she added. “I have no concerns for the upcoming school year as I know UWSP will help all their students through whatever we may be faced with.”
Young says that most students and their families share the same concerns across the country.
“One is health and safety,” he explained. “The plans that we have, not only for preventing the spread but also how students will be cared for if they are to test positive.
“Another main concern is for the students who are electing to be on campus, making sure that they still get the college experience. We know that for the students who are looking to be residential, that is something that they’re longing for. So, we have to make sure that we safely figure out ways to have students be social, while distancing here on campus, whether it is in the residence halls or in common areas.
“About 75 percent of our courses will have either an online option or hybrid model, and students are very appreciative of that flexibility, because everyone is at different places. We are going to focus our in-person classes towards curriculum such as labs and the performing arts. But, we prepared to go virtual with those courses should we need to, but what we’ve heard from our faculty is they are far more engaged in the learning outcomes for students (which) are critical when thinking about the modality. So, we are hoping for in person with our labs and the theater arts programs.”