West Virginia University fall enrollment has reached another record high, bolstered by an increase in the number of out-of-state students and the largest-ever freshman class, according to WVU officials.

The record 26,051 enrollment marks the fifth consecutive year of growth for the University and a 3.2 percent increase from the fall 2004 enrollment of 25,255.

This years class of first-time freshmen is 4,574, up 215 students, or 4.9 percent. The number of out-of-state students has climbed to 9,238, a 9.6 percent jump (813) over last years 8,425.

WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. attributed the Universitys continued enrollment success to itstotal packageof high-quality programs and competitive price.

Students choosing West Virginia University make a wise choice,he said.It offers a wide array of excellent academic programs, outstanding faculty, very strong student and family support programs, a Top 10 value among national flagship universities and the opportunity to gain experiences that will enhance job and graduate school opportunities. Our growth in recent years is evidence that the total package at WVU right now is very positive.

Nevertheless, all West Virginia colleges and universities face enrollment challenges in the years to come because of regional demographics,he added.WVU will use its best efforts to remain highly competitive in this environment and attract an ever higher caliber of student to our campuses.

At the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, the total number of students rose to 2,658, an increase of 239or almost 10 percentfrom last fall. The greatest increases were seen in medicine and nursing.

This is a reflection of the increasing interest of West Virginia students in health careers, and WVU s efforts over the past several years to increase enrollment in nursing, pharmacy and other programs where the state has an urgent need for trained health professionals,said Dr. Robert DAlessandri, vice president for health sciences at WVU .We work with students as young as junior high school to make sure theyre prepared for science and health careers.

As the Health Sciences Center adds new facilities like the Health Sciences learning center and expands its presence in the Eastern Panhandle and in Charleston,

DAlessandri expects this growth to continue.

Meanwhile, retention at WVU s main campus is holding steady. Nearly 81 percent of the fall 2004 freshmen returned this semester, said Brenda Thompson, assistant vice president of Enrollment Services.

Vice President for Student Affairs Ken Gray pointed to WVU s commitment to student centeredness as one of the main reasons for a consistently high retention rate.

This commitment has created a campus climate where students are supported and encouraged from the time they consider attending WVU through their graduation and beyond,Gray said.From weekend entertainment alternatives to orientation programs such as Adventure West Virginia to opportunities for study abroad, WVU offers an extensive network of programs and services that attracts and retains students.

Also notable: WVU s freshman academic profile remains strong with an average

ACT composite score of 23.1 and an SAT combined average of 1048. Both of these numbers are well above the national averages of 20.9 for the ACT and 1028 for the SAT . The average high school grade point average for incoming freshmen is 3.29.

This years freshman class includes a record number of honors students. According to Director Keith Garbutt, some 380 first-year students are in the Honors Program, compared to approximately 350 in last years class, bringing the total number of honors students to nearly 1,320, up from 1,160 last year.

I think part of it is the quality of the class,he said.More people are eligible to join the program. I also hope the changes weve recently made with the programwith the professional track and the flexibility of the 21st century scholars trackare what students want to see.

Additionally, WVU claims the highest number of PROMISE Scholars in the state, with 4,255 currently enrolled, or 43 percent of the statewide PROMISE Scholars. The freshman class includes 1,190 PROMISE Scholars.

Other Enrollment Highlights

  • The 26,051 total includes 15,562 West Virginia residents and 9,238 out-of-state students, seven from U.S. territories and 1,244 international students.
  • The full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment is up by four percent and now stands at 24,599.
  • The number of transfer students increased by 29, or 3.3 percent, from last year for a total of 897 transfers this fall.
  • Overall, the number of Maryland residents enrolled at WVU increased 14.2 percent; New Jersey, 15.2 percent; New York, 4.6 percent; Ohio, 8.5 percent; Pennsylvania, 4.9 percent; and Virginia, 7.3 percent.
  • Men (13, 335 or 51 percent) and women (12,716 or 49 percent) are about equally represented.