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WCU sees slight increase in distance students for spring semester

By Benny Smith

spring flowers22


Larger groups of students graduating in December and the pandemic’s ongoing impact on finances of students and their families has caused Western Carolina University’s enrollment to dip slightly by 3.6% for the 2023 spring semester. On the other hand, WCU experienced a slight increase in distance students.

The spring 2023 data were 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. 17 with classes delivered in-person.

“The university’s data show a significant uptick in graduation count year over year,” said Tim Metz, assistant vice chancellor of institutional planning and effectiveness. “With more students graduating, there is the impact of fewer returning students the next term. With a 16% increase in December graduates 2022 compared to 2021, it’s not surprising that fewer returning students were on campus in the spring.”

There are a total of 10,586 students enrolled this semester compared to 10,977 this time last year. There are 9,018 undergraduate students this spring compared to 9,287 in spring 2022. The fall-to-spring retention rate of first-time, full-time freshmen was 87.1%. Graduate student enrollment overall was down 122 students or 7.2%. As expected, during the ongoing pandemic distance students grew by almost 0.6%.

“Although the graduate school did see some decreases, there were enrollment increases in the doctor of psychology program and in health and human science fields, including in the doctor of physical therapy program, and in master’s programs in social work, athletic training and health sciences,” said Brian Kloeppel, dean and professor of the Graduate School and Research.

For more information on undergraduate programs, go to or call the Office of Undergraduate Admissions 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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