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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh welcomes a first-year class of nearly 1,500 students on its Oshkosh campus this fall.

The number of new students remains relatively stable compared to fall 2021, according to preliminary enrollment numbers released today by University of Wisconsin System.

First-year students on the Oshkosh campus total 1,451, compared to 1,479 in September 2021. The estimates are based on first-day enrollment figures. Final 10-day enrollment numbers typically differ. Across all UW System campuses, total enrollment is down about 3.6% (excluding UW-Madison), or about 4,200 students.

Chancellor Andrew Leavitt

“We are close to where we thought we would be with first-year student numbers, and I thank all of the faculty and staff members who work so hard to keep UWO accessible, affordable and a first choice for learners and their families,” said UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt. “Overall, the enrollment projections confirm our ongoing focus on student retention and doing more to support students as they transition into and beyond their sophomore year.”

Retention issues are driven by several factors – fewer high school students, a strong job market, lingering impacts of the pandemic – and specifically at UW Oshkosh, an increase in both four-year and six-year graduation rates. This is a good thing, but it adds to the decrease in overall enrollment numbers.

The University has made several investments in staff and programs to improve student success and keep students enrolled.

One of those investments is a new team called Student Success Navigators. This group works with new students on all three campuses to help them “navigate” the challenges they face in their first years. Their work complements the work of student advising. They are not counselors, but facilitators who help students identify and manage the problems they face by connecting them with the resources they need to be successful and stay in school.

Retention is an issue impacting more than the four-year campus. While first-year numbers at the Fond du Lac and Fox Cities campus are also relatively stable, retention is down at both sites, driving declines in overall enrollment. Across the three campuses of UW Oshkosh the preliminary UW System report shows a decline of 853 students, or 5%. Total first day enrollment at UWO in 2021 was 14,152 students, compared to 13,299 this fall.

UW Oshkosh, Fox Cities campus students start the year off right at the Welcome Back Bash.

Efforts to drive student success and improve retention at the Fond du Lac and Fox Cities campuses include the Strong Start program, a four-week program to help new students acclimate to college life. Each campus also has a new space, the Intersection, where students and staff can meet to create an inclusive community.

In addition to the Success Navigators, UW Oshkosh is a prime participant in the new Wisconsin Tuition Promise, a program that guarantees tuition coverage for students who meet economic and other requirements. And before students begin college, UWO offers a robust slate of pre-college programs designed to ease students into the rigors of college academics and bolster their chance for success.

UWO also has entered into transfer agreement programs with area technical colleges, easing the transition from these two-year programs to a four-year degree. Free application and express admissions events make it easy for students to apply to any UWO campus and get a decision quickly.

UW Oshkosh is taking a look at every area to see where improvements can be made to increase retention, but, more importantly, to help students–including a new slate of online programs under the UWO+ brand. Coming soon are changes in residence hall procedures that will lower housing fees and allow students to pick housing and roommates soon after they are admitted, as well as the option for more single-occupancy spaces for those who want to forego a roommate.

“As a regional, comprehensive university, UWO offers one of the most affordable college experiences in the state,” Leavitt said. “We are preparing and graduating the people needed in healthcare, in our schools, and throughout business, industry and society. We continue to innovate offerings and experiences that will improve student success.”

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