UW-Green Bay seeing increase in new freshman applications for fall

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 5:02 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - It seems to be happening across the nation, including here in Wisconsin, as University of Wisconsin System universities see a 30 percent increase in new freshman college applications.

Applications don’t necessarily mean student enrollment, but university officials believe it’s a good sign as we approach another school year during a pandemic.

“I think students are excited to return to campus and to experience college life,” said Kate Burns, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UW-Green Bay.

It’s been a year of flexibility over at UWGB as it offered hybrid class options for students, while also becoming a COVID-19 testing site and mass vaccination hub.

“I think that the UW System is here to solve problems. We’re here to work with the community, and I think working with the mass vaccination and the testing sites was a great way for us to use the expertise and to meet those community needs at a time when we really needed to,” said Burns.

Burns said the university is actually seeing more interest in its nursing program.

“We think that that could be because of the pandemic people really seeing the importance of nursing and wanting to be a part of that … it was the second most popular student interest coming into the fall,” said Burns.

UWGB is one of only a few schools that had enrollment increase in 2020.

“We had 2% higher enrollment in the fall as well as 2% higher enrollment in the spring last year,” said Burns.

She hopes the 70 percent increase in new fall freshman applications the university is already seeing this year continues that trend.

“We usually yield anywhere from 40% to 45% of students,” said Burns.

UW-System universities have already received 133,484 from new freshman students, about 5,338 going to UWGB and its branches. Applications by Wisconsin residents, first-generation students, and underreported minorities are also up for this fall.

For the UW System, that’s 29 percent higher than the same time last year and 33 percent higher than in 2019.

“We’re trying to make the university student-centric,” said UW System President Tommy Thompson.

Thompson said over the past year they’ve removed barriers for students by waiving certain application fees and ACT score requirements, while making it easier to apply to all schools within the system.

“I think all of this is working towards a much better outcome than we had ever anticipated,” said Thompson.

While applications don’t equate to student enrollment, officials believe it’s a good sign for the year to come as UW System universities saw an enrollment decline of 1.7 percent last year.

“We were afraid that the pandemic would have a demoralizing impact, but we’ve got encouragement. We’re going to have more students and that to me is a net plus,” said Thompson.

“We’re excited about the fall,” said Burns. “I think that it’s good that students are interested in the programs that we have to offer and we’re excited to have them with us this fall.”

Thompson said officials are still working on COVID-19 protocols for the fall, expecting to release them in the next few weeks. Vaccinations will not be required, but Thompson said he is working on a program to encourage students to get the shot before school starts in the fall.

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