November 29, 2022
Dear WSU Community,
As an institution, the number of students enrolled across our
system plays an integral role in the way we operate. The last few
years have proven to be increasingly difficult in that arena as we
graduate some of our largest classes in WSU history and confront
the ever-changing landscape of higher education during a global
pandemic. While our systemwide numbers are down 7.7% from where
they were last fall, we are thrilled to be seeing early indications
of a return to pre‑COVID application levels thanks to the
coordinated efforts of faculty and staff across the system.
In a message that went out last month, I mentioned that
Enrollment Management is incorporating several new and
innovative strategies to boost applications systemwide. Some of those
activities include the implementation of the CommonApp for
first-year applicants, onsite and on-the-spot admission
programming, and frequent visits to transfer institutions.
I’m happy to report that we are already beginning to see some
early returns in these areas. With the use of the CommonApp,
students now have the ability to apply to WSU with the click of
a button. As a result, the total number of applications received
across the system has increased 34% compared to a year ago. While
these numbers are encouraging, we recognize that additional work
must be done to ensure those applicants become students by next
fall. That’s where our New Student Orientation program, campus
tours, admissions staff, student support staff, academic advisors,
and the smart use of technology come in.
In addition to securing more applications, we have made
substantial efforts to find future Cougs wherever they may be in
the state. As part of our onsite admissions programming, admissions
staff are making trips to local and regional high schools and
have attended Fall Preview days at each of our campuses. We also
recently held our first‑ever onsite admission events at WSU Research
and Extension Centers in Puyallup and Mt. Vernon. We have admitted
approximately 250 students through this process and look forward to
expanding these efforts as the application cycle progresses.
We also aim to maximize transfer student enrollment throughout
the system. Transfer student enrollment across the nation has dropped
significantly over the last few years, with community colleges among
those hit hardest by the pandemic. This fall, Enrollment Management
has completed over 22 visits to transfer institutions and is
currently coordinating additional visits and Spring Transfer events
at each of our campus locations. These efforts are in addition to
regularly scheduled hours at local community colleges in Tri‑Cities,
Vancouver, Everett, and Spokane. This is a giant leap compared to
last year when community and technical colleges were still remote,
and admissions staff were unable to meet with aspiring Cougs in person.
New first-year and transfer students are important to our
enrollment health, but so are current students. Retaining every
eligible Coug is a priority if we are to regain the enrollments lost
over the last few years, and the robust participation of faculty and
staff is essential to achieving that end. For those looking to support
current efforts around retainment, I would encourage you to remind
students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA) this year and every year that they are enrolled in a
degree-seeking program. Too much money — as much as $50M — has been
left on the table by Washington graduates that never filed for federal
aid. I know we can do better as a state and system.
As we look to the future, we will continue to adapt our strategy
to meet the needs of Washington residents. Everyone should have the
opportunity to benefit from a college education, and I sincerely hope
we can be a part of a larger movement to ensure our state and its
residents are set up for success.
Thank you to the faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly to
provide a top-tier education to our students. WSU would not be the
institution it is today without the cumulative efforts of the entire
Coug community. I am grateful for your continued dedication to improving,
supporting, and growing Washington State University.
Kirk H. Schulz
Washington State University
For information on campus-specific recruitment and retainment efforts, please reach out to admissions staff at each of our campus locations.