SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Southwest Texas State University has reported an enrollment of 21,504 students for the 1998 fall semester, an increase of almost 4 percent from 1997.
SWT enrolled 802 more students than in fall 1997. Undergraduate enrollment is up 935 students or 5.3 percent. The number of Hispanic students increased 4.5 percent (167 students), and the enrollment of African-American students is up 2.9 percent (29 students).
Sixty percent of the enrollment jump is attributed to new students. The university enrolled 476 more new students than it did one year ago.
“This is an indication that our academic reputation is continuing to improve,” said James Studer, vice president of student affairs. “New students are telling us that they now see SWT as one of the best schools in the state of Texas.”
Among general admission new freshmen at SWT, 61 percent ranked in the top quarter of their high school class, and one in five was in the top 10 percent.
Increased involvement in the recruiting process by SWT faculty, and improved scholarship opportunities are also factors in the rising number of new students at SWT, Studer said.
Better student retention also contributed to the enrollment increase. Of the new freshmen who enrolled at SWT in the fall of 1997, 70 percent returned to the school this year, an increase of 5 percent from the year before.
“Improving student retention is a high priority here, and this shows we are making progress in the right direction,” said Leellen Brigman, associate vice president of student affairs and director of enrollment management.
The retention rate of Hispanic students is 68 percent, up 10 percent in two years. The retention rate for African American students is 71 percent, up 1 percent from a year ago.
Brigman said retention initiatives, such as the school’s Mentoring Program, are working.
“The one-year retention of freshmen participating in the Mentoring Program averages 74 percent over the six years of its existence,” said Brigman. The program matches students with faculty, staff or upperclass student mentors who offer assistance in adjusting to college life.
The 1998 fall enrollment is the second-highest in school history. It returns SWT’s enrollment to levels set before the school raised admission standards in the early 1990s.