UWA’s incoming freshman class the largest in 20 years

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The University of West Alabama’s Office of Admissions and Enrollment Management has announced its fall 2015 undergraduate enrollment, with increases in its top three areas, on-campus, transfer, and the first-time freshman incoming class, which is at a longtime high.

The school has its highest increase for the first-time freshman incoming class, with a 19.7 percent hike. The count is up from 350 in 2014 to 419 in 2015, the highest number UWA has seen for this class in 20 years.

The University of West Alabama has just welcomed its largest class of first-time freshman students in 20 years, as well as an increase in its number of transfer students. (Contributed Photo)

The University of West Alabama has just welcomed its largest class of first-time freshman students in 20 years, as well as an increase in its number of transfer students. (Contributed Photo)

UWA has also attracted a heightened number of transfer students for 2015, showing a 6.4 percent increase in transfer enrollment.

The overall on-campus undergraduate enrollment is up one percent, with freshman to senior classes totaling 1,742.

UWA President Ken Tucker, who took office on January 1 of this year, attributes these increases to enhanced efforts in recruiting.

“UWA’s increase in undergraduate enrollment, with all of the individual increases, is a result of a dedicated and focused effort across campus, “ Tucker explained. “We have shown a unified effort to actively recruit and to be progressive and accommodating in our endeavors. We are collectively working to expand our educational products, to enhance every aspect of the student experience, and to provide all of these at the most affordable rates that we can offer.”

In 2014, the UWA Board of Trustees approved up to $300,000 in matching funds for a scholarship initiative, highlighting three categories: distinguished student leaders, legacy scholarships, and the jobship program.

The average ACT score of admitted students is up in both unconditional and conditional admissions for the second consecutive year. The average ACT average for the 2015 academic year for UWA’s unconditional admissions is 22.28, and the average for conditional admissions is 20.84. Unconditional admission requires an ACT composite score of 19 or higher, while conditional admission can be granted to students with a ACT composite score of 17-18.

Administrators say that attracting higher quality students will lead to higher retention and graduation rates, as students are better-prepared for the coursework and academic rigor of college and are more likely to be encouraged by their own success as they enter college and continue through class years.

Vice President for Student Affairs Danny Buckalew reports that some 60 more students are returning to residence halls than in 2014. UWA has a freshman residency requirement, but an increase in students remaining in campus housing shows potential increases in retention rates.

In the fall of 2012, UWA opened its freshman residence, Gilbert Hall, which stands four-stories, is 116,000-square-foot , and houses 444 freshmen. Along with the opening of the building accompanied the reinstated freshman residency requirement, which was established to help guide students through the first year of college.

National studies and UWA’s own data show that living on campus for the first year and participating in academic and social activities has a direct positive impact on the freshman experience and will likely give students reason to return to a residence hall for the sophomore year.

“We’ve seen over the last couple of years the positive effects of freshman residency on our campus,” Buckalew said. “There is a direct correlation between participation and retention shown through measurements of programs led by our Housing staff. The highest retention is in the group of students who involved themselves in academic, cultural, and social activities on campus throughout their freshman year.”

Founded in 1835, the University of West Alabama holds within its mission a commitment to serve its region through education, service, and development. A four-year university offering the traditional campus experience, UWA also offers an array of degrees online. For more information, visit www.uwa.edu.