SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Southwest Texas State University officials say the growing prestige of the university is at least partially responsible for a dramatic rise this year in the number of freshman applications the school has received.
Applications from prospective freshmen for the 2001 fall semester are up 87 percent compared to the same period a year ago, a figure that university leaders say reflects planned growth and the school’s improving reputation. SWT has received 2,310 applications from prospective freshmen this year, compared to 1,230 at the same time a year ago. Applications are up in all ethnic groups.
SWT revised its strategic plan in 1998, and adopted as one of its primary goals enhancing the quality and prestige of the university. At the same time, SWT President Jerome Supple said the university should become one of the three top public universities in Texas to which students submit admission applications.
“The increase in applications shows that students and parents are recognizing our accomplishments,” said Robert Gratz, vice president of academic affairs. “Last year, we attracted the third-largest number of electronic admissions applications in the state (behind the University of Texas and Texas A&M University). The current pace of next fall’s early applications provides evidence that we’re well on our way to realizing our vision.”
Christie Kangas, SWT admissions director, said enrollment is boosted by other factors as well, including moving the scholarship application deadline from February to December, and by holding admission information sessions earlier in the year. The scholarship application deadline was moved forward to allow more time to process applications and to incorporate an interview into the selection process for more scholarship awards.
“Financing an education is a very important factor for many families, and scholarships are integral to this part of the college decision process. Scholarships are also one of the strategies we use to attract some of Texas’ best and brightest students to SWT,” said Kangas.
Kangas also said that changing demographics in Texas are contributing to increasing numbers of college applicants. SWT is already the 20th largest producer of Hispanic baccalaureate degrees in the nation.
“The increased numbers we are seeing are a result of our efforts as well as demographics in Texas that have high school graduating classes growing over the next several years. But there is no doubt that SWT has positioned itself well for this in terms of enhancing its quality and reputation,” said Kangas.
She said that information sessions held for students and parents in Houston, Dallas, Plano, Arlington, Killeen, Brownsville, McAllen and Harlingen from last spring through October helped contribute to the largest College Day ever held at SWT. That event, on Nov. 11, drew more than 1,300 prospective students and their parents to the SWT campus.
University officials say they expect an entering freshman class of 2,700 for the 2001 fall semester, and they encourage students to apply early in order to secure choice university housing for the fall. SWT set a record enrollment of 22,462 in fall 2000.