University News

Enrollment Surges at WNE: Freshmen Class Among the Largest in 100-year History

Published: September 03, 2021 | Categories: All News
Freshman class walking to convocation

Western New England University (WNE) has enrolled an incoming class of new students that has broken a number of opening day enrollment records. This class has shaped up to be among the largest, most diverse, and academically talented classes in the University's 100-year history.

"More than 7,200 students applied for admission in this recruiting cycle, which represents the second largest number of applications ever received at WNE," says Bryan Gross, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing. "Over 880 accepted students enrolled this fall, representing a 10% increase, more than 100 additional students, over last year. The large number of applications allowed the University to shape the class with students who are diverse, accomplished, and highly motivated."

This class consists of the largest group of first year Engineering students in the College of Engineering's history at 188, which is seven students more than the school's all-time record reached in 2014. The College of Arts & Sciences welcomed the largest group of incoming Psychology students at 72, which is 23 students more than its all-time record.

The incoming class consists of 26% of students who are from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, making them the third most diverse group of students in the University's history. "We are also thrilled to have 25 new students who are coming to WNE from overseas despite COVID-19," said Gross. "They will be joining us from countries such as France, India, Nepal, Peru, Argentina, and Vietnam. They will add to this already diverse group of students who have interests ranging from Accounting and Pharmacy to Creative Writing." The campus is open, and welcoming, and respects people from all backgrounds and with a wide variety of interests.

These Golden Bears boast the highest average test scores and the second highest average GPA in the University's history. This year's average SAT score is 1250, 29 points higher than last year's average.

In an effort to expand the University's footprint in the Northeast, WNE offered special outreach and visit opportunities to students from New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, which resulted in significant gains in enrolled students from those states. WNE also implemented the Center for Social Justice scholarship which provides students the opportunity to engage with programs taking place in the ABA-accredited School of Law.

"It goes beyond just what we see in the data," says Gross. "We have one of the most talented group of incoming students in history as well, with students who, despite having the pandemic impact their high school career, come to us with remarkable accomplishments. We have business owners, entrepreneurs, fundraisers, star athletes, and social justice warriors in this year's class. They have proven to be incredibly resourceful and determined in overcoming the wide variety of challenges they have faced. We feel we have a group of students who really strive to make a positive difference in the world."

In a year where many schools are facing flat or declining enrollment, WNE attributes this year's success in part to their management of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Last year our prospective students repeatedly asked questions about what we were doing to support our current students. The fact that we remained open all year and provided a robust on-the-ground experience and did so safely really meant a lot to our incoming families," says Gross. "Parents also appreciate the personal attention they got all year long. They wanted their students to go to a place that would keep them safe and offer a very personal and customized experience inside and outside of the classroom."

With that in mind, the University has also gone to tremendous lengths to prepare for this year's class, with a keen eye on gathering data and being proactive in dealing with some of the unique challenges this year's class may be faced with.

In April, under the directive of University President Robert E. Johnson, the University formed the Pandemic Effects Task Force. The group consisted of faculty and staff experts who did extensive research, including speaking with teachers and administrators in the area, to inform new initiatives. The group, who met all summer long, came away with the fact that there are both mental health and academic challenges that this class could face.

As a result, new faculty trainings have been implemented; the University created a new department of Health and Wellness, merging health and counseling services; and took a more hands on approach to course selection. The University is prepared to provide the support that students may need once they arrive. "Every student who enrolls at WNE is surrounded by a team of four advisors—a Peer, Career, Academic, and University advisor. All of these individuals will be prepared to develop a plan for our students that give them the best chance to overcome any challenges that may come their way."

President Johnson, who began as the University's sixth president last August added, "We are a new traditional university. A national university who prepares learners and earners for the future of work, equipping them to create value and thrive in a complex hyperconnected world. When we talk about value proposition, families are understanding more and more that WNE is a place like no other, with all of the majors offered at even the largest colleges and a warm campus culture you won't find anywhere else."

WNE is the only national, private university in Springfield, MA. Ninety-four percent of all graduates last year were employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation. Families looking for both opportunities to get a job and value in terms of price were very pleased with what they saw from WNE.

This truly unique and record-breaking class, along with the growing retention rate for current students, demonstrates that the University is continuing to attract right-fit students who will join the ranks of the new traditional Golden Bear who graduate understanding their personal value proposition that will propel them to meaningful careers and lives.