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UAS Enrollment ahead of last year

New students up 31 percent.

By: Randi Spray

Enrollment at the University of Alaska Southeast for the fall semester is up over last year, particularly with new undergraduate students.

As of Aug. 24, the number of new fall undergraduates at UAS jumped 31.2 percent — almost 100 students — over last fall’s total. The economy and new recruiting strategies are both factors, according to Admission Director Joe Nelson.

Headcount for the three Southeast campuses was up 6.5 percent and credit hours were up 9.1 percent from the same time last year. The Ketchikan campus already surpassed its fall 2008 total and Sitka and Juneau might soon follow.

“In previous years, our numbers go through a boom in the last two weeks,” said Julie Staveland, Outreach and Orientation Coordinator. Final numbers won’t be released until four weeks after the semester starts.

The bad economy is a factor in the enrollment boom.Nelson said there’s an increase in Juneau students choosing to stay in the area and Juneau-Douglas High School grads who originally went to schools in the Lower 48 transferring back to UAS.

One of those students choosing to stay is 2009 graduate Kymberly Hoyle.

Hoyle, 19, originally planned on attending Western State College in Colorado.

“I love Colorado and the school has a lot to offer. It’s close nit and it has smaller classes,” Hoyle said. She was already in the middle of housing paperwork when she took a step back to look at her finances, only to find that, “It looked out of the question.”

So Hoyle made the decision to stay and go to UAS.

“Tuition is cheaper because it’s in-state and I’m living at home with my parents, so I save a lot of money,” Hoyle said. She estimates she saves around $20,000 a year.

“I think I made a good decision to not go because of my financial issues,” Hoyle said. “I really wanted to go (to Western State) but now that I’m considering other options I can do study abroad for a cheaper price than going to Colorado.”

Nelson said there has also been a renewed focus on recruiting in the past two years, with brochure updates, hosting two more enrollment days and expanding recruitment across the state.

A lot of Alaskans haven’t been to Juneau and don’t know about UAS, Nelson said. Last year, they put a recruiter in Anchorage for high school outreach and another recruiter visits small high school college fairs in four towns in the Northwest Arctic.

“We haven’t reached that far in the past,” Nelson said.

UAS isn’t alone.  Kenai Peninsula College, a UAA campus, reported a 26 percent increase at the beginning of their fall semester, Aug. 24.

The recession is having a big impact on colleges nationwide. Highly selective and expensive schools are getting the worst end while community colleges are seeing enrollment increases.

Georgetown University, with total yearly costs of more than $51,000, has accepted more students than usual of it’s waiting lists while places like Kenai Peninsula are offering more classes and increasing capacity in existing classes.

Last year, 3,598 students enrolled at UAS for fall 2008. The Juneau campus saw 2,623 students of which 510 were full-time students and 494 were new recruits.


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