Enrollment at Northwest Missouri State University and Missouri Western State University this fall saw increases of 8.2 and 2.6 percent, respectively, over last year’s census.

Northwest has 6,857 students and reports an institutional record of 78 percent retention rate, according to results of the university’s fall census. Other increases Northwest boasted were a fall freshman class of 1,329 students, accounting for a 9.3 percent increase; and, the percentage of first-time underrepresented freshmen attending Northwest being up 14 percent and representing the third-largest in the institution’s history. The number of students transferring to the university is up by 19.7 percent to 346.

MoWest has a total of 5,707 students enrolled, including a 5.5 percent growth in the number of new freshmen and a notable rise in the number of credit hours taken per student. There was a 42 percent jump in the number of students taking 16 credit hours or more.

“It’s very exciting to see this kind of growth,” said Dr. Paul Orscheln, associate vice president for enrollment management. “Not only are more students choosing Missouri Western, but they are taking more classes overall.”

This is due in part to the MoWest Finish in Four initiative launched this year, as well as intentional university-wide efforts encouraging students to plan ahead and complete their degree in a timely manner.

“Students who stick to a set academic plan and take at least 15 credit hours per semester are more likely to graduate, get better grades and are generally more engaged on campus,” added Orscheln.

Northwest attributes the growth to a refined strategic approach including the establishment of a cross-disciplinary recruiting team, enhanced communication with prospective students and partnerships with marketing and online education vendors to provide services and support aimed at increasing enrollment.

“We are very excited to see so many students attending and staying at Northwest,” Jeremy Waldeier, Northwest’s interim director of student recruiting, said. “It’s a direct reflection of the hard work of the entire campus community and our focus on students.”

Other enrollment increases at Northwest include online enrollment, up 104.4 percent; graduate headcount, up 39.2 percent; and undergraduate headcount, up 3.3 percent. The number of first-time graduate students at Northwest this fall is up 38.4 percent, breaking an institutional record, and international graduate is up 51.2 percent.

Additionally, Northwest reports a headcount of 1,316 students, or 19 percent of the student population, who identify with underrepresented groups or hail from countries outside the United States. Northwest’s 219 underrepresented domestic first-time students represent the third-largest total in the university’s history and a 14 percent increase from last fall. The university’s enrollment includes 437 international students, who represent about six percent of Northwest’s student body. They represent 37 countries, with the majority of those students coming from India, Nepal, South Korea and Nigeria.

The university’s in-state student population is 4,607 students, an increase of 11.1 percent from last fall. Northwest students represent a total of 44 states this fall, as the university continues to draw well from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.