Backed by the university’s largest full-time freshman class in its 150-year history — due in part to increasing graduation rates and in the midst a competitive recruiting environment — Wayne State University’s enrollment has remained strong and steady this fall. Current enrollment is now 27,053.
Detroit’s major research university welcomed 7,283 new students this fall, including 2,957 full-time freshmen — an increase of 15 percent over last year’s incoming freshmen class. The incoming class also includes the university’s largest First Time in Any College (FTIAC) group (3,038) — composed of full- and part-time students entering their first year at any college or university — in a decade. The positive enrollment trend extends to community college transfers (6 percent) and new international students (1.1 percent).
“Even in this competitive recruiting environment, students want to be part of the amazing story happening at Wayne State and in Detroit,” said Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management. “We’re confident that story will continue moving forward, providing even more exciting opportunities for our students.”
Wayne State’s incoming students maintain Wayne State’s strong academic standards, as well as its commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for students. The 2018 freshman class is among the highest credentialed class on record, with an average GPA of 3.4 and ACT score of 24. Forty four percent of the incoming class identify as a minority, including a 28 percent increase in Hispanic FTIACs and a 13 percent increase in African American FTIACs.
The university has also remained committed to affordability. More than 1,200 students enrolled in classes this fall with zero out-of-pocket expenses through the Wayne ACCESS Award. WSU also welcomed back 58 former students through its new Warrior Way Back program, which re-engages students who left the university with debt and no degree by allowing them to “learn” away their past debt as they work toward graduation.
“There’s never been a better time to be a Warrior, and we’re excited to welcome our new and returning students and to help them excel,” said Provost Keith Whitfield. “The improvements we’ve made are a direct result of hard work and commitment across campus and, as a team, we’re moving quickly in the right direction.”
Schools and colleges leading the enrollment growth are the Mike Ilitch School of Business (6.6 percent) and the College of Nursing (4.1 percent). Since the announcement of a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch in Oct. 2015, graduate enrollment in the Mike Ilitch School of Business has increased by two-thirds to more than 1,400 students this fall. Total enrollment in the school has increased to more than 4,000 students.
WSU’s six-year graduation rate is now 47 percent, an increase of about 21 percentage points over a period of seven years. The university’s strategic plan includes a goal of growing the six-year graduation rate to 50 percent by 2021.
The university’s four-year graduation rate has increased 4 percentage points this year, which bodes well for future graduation improvements.
With growing excitement around campus and Detroit — WSU’s new Anthony Wayne Drive Apartments boasts full capacity for on-campus housing, the Mike Ilitch School of Business has opened, and ground will be broken for the Hilberry Gateway Performance Complex this month — the university is optimistic about its progress.
Numerous student success initiatives are also having an impact. WSU recently restructured its general education program to provide more flexibility in curriculum for students. Additionally, WSU launched the Warrior VIP program to ensure a smooth transition to college and provide individualized support.
Recruiting for 2019 is underway.