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WCU Stories

Spring semester enrollment dips, with increase of new graduate and distance students

By Benny Smith
student life 98


Amid the pandemic and its ongoing impact on finances of students and their families, total enrollment at Western Carolina University has dipped slightly by 2.7% for the 2022 spring semester, while the number of new graduate students and distance students enrolled increased.

There are a total of 10,977 students enrolled this semester compared to 11,284 this time last year. There are 9,287 undergraduate students this spring vs. 9,587 in spring 2021. The fall to spring retention rate of first-time, full-time freshmen was 86.5 percent. Graduate student enrollment overall was down seven students or less than 0.5%, although the number of new graduate students increased by 13%. As expected during the ongoing pandemic, distance students grew by almost 5%.

The spring 2022 data was compiled by WCU’s Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness following completion of the 10th day of classes, which is known as “census day.” Enrollment numbers are considered preliminary until verified and files sent to the University of North Carolina System Office. The semester began Jan. 10 with classes delivered in-person.

“Spring enrollment numbers at institutions of higher education are typically lower than fall enrollment as some students graduate in December, while others do not return for a second semester for various reasons,” said Chancellor Kelli R. Brown. “Some students we’ve heard from have expressed the pandemic has been hard on them and they wanted a break before resuming their collegiate career, while others found it easier to move into distance education programs rather than face to face. We are working hard and putting in place different strategies so that we can remain focused on student success and helping our students to achieve their goals.”

For more information on undergraduate programs go to or call the Office of Undergraduate Admissions toll-free at 877-928-4968.

For more information about graduate programs, visit the Graduate School website, email or call 828-227-7398.

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