Enrollment climbs above 4,000 at Fort Lewis College
Most in 9 years, above school’s goal
Fall is off to a happy start at Fort Lewis College, where enrollment this fall rose above 4,000 students for the first time since 2004.
Total enrollment is 4,065 students, an increase of 174 students, more than 4 percent, compared with 2012, the school announced. The college’s goal was 2 percent growth.
“To see our enrollment numbers exceed expectations, especially in the face of a challenging recruiting environment across the state, is a reflection of FLC’s growing reputation as a world-class academic institution,” said FLC President Dene Thomas. “I have traveled across the nation and around the world to spread the word about our remarkable college to bring new students and new opportunities to Durango.”
The numbers also reflect two years of growth after a trend of decreasing enrollment. FLC reached its lowest level in a decade in 2009 with 3,685 students. The economic downturn and the fact that the college raised its admissions standards in 2008 might have had an impact on those numbers.
Other upswings show a 2.2 percent increase in incoming freshmen, a 3.7 percent rise in continuing students and a 6.6 increase in transfer students.
“My overall sense is that the college made a significant investment in marketing and admissions, and we’re starting to see the fruits of those efforts,” said Mitch Davis, FLC’s public affairs officer. “We’ve taken a pretty diverse approach, getting admissions counselors out into the field more and advertising at major events where the people they draw might be interested in Fort Lewis.”
One place where FLC has made a prominent appearance is at collegiate and professional cycling events.
“The national exposure Fort Lewis has gotten from these national events has put us on the map,” Davis said. “We have a student from Alabama who was introduced to the college through the (USA) Pro Cycling Challenge,” which in 2012 began in Durango.
The higher enrollment numbers also include FLC’s first graduate students, 37 enrollees in its new Master of Arts in Education program.
“We were aiming for 25 students for the master’s program, so that’s really good,” Davis said. “And for the first time anyone I’ve spoken to can remember, we have students from all 50 states.”
Davis credits the Welcome Center at Eighth Street and Main Avenue and the Durango Area Tourism Office for part of the heightened awareness of the college.
“We have at least one student enrolled here because his family came to Durango on vacation and saw Fort Lewis information at the Welcome Center,” he said.
Out-of-state tuition has not gone up in four years, which is probably also a factor, Davis said. Annual tuition is about $5,200 for in-state students and $16,072 for out-of-state.
“People in the past kept referring to Fort Lewis as a hidden gem,” he said. “That seems like a compliment, but for a college, it’s important to get its name out there.”
During the next weeks and months, the school will be analyzing the data for the 2013 student body to see what other lessons it can learn from this year’s success.
“We do know that, typically, once people get a look at our campus, they tend to come here,” Davis said. “So getting people to come look is critical.”