The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s student population is growing. This fall semester has brought in the second largest freshman class since the university went selective. This year’s freshman class consists of 3,066 students.
Dr. DeWayne Bowie, UL Lafayette’s vice president for enrollment management, shared the quality of the new freshman class.
According to Bowie, there has been a 26% increase in students with an ACT of 32 or higher and 105 students were high school valedictorians. The class as a whole has an average ACT score of 25 with an average high school GPA of 3.58.
“We’re continuing to do the things that we need to do to continue to attract high performing students to our University,” Bowie said.
The increase in students is not exclusive to the freshman class.
“Enrollment, as far as overall enrollment, was a 1% increase. In the freshman class, that was a 6% increase. So, we’re up in pretty much every category of students on our campus,” Bowie said.
Bowie credits the rise in enrollment to what UL Lafayette has to offer students.
”It starts with an amazing product that we have here. Many students just love firstly the academic quality of this university as far as the academic programs, but then when they come and visit, it feels good. A lot say it feels like home. It’s a very comfortable campus. It’s not too big, not too small. It’s just right for a lot of students,” Bowie said.
“What they truly like as well is the way we as a campus interact and engage with our students. They like that high touch, hands on type approach for those who want that,” Bowie continued. “It’s nothing that is forced upon anybody, but if that’s what you want, we give the students an option for that experience. That’s why they continually apply to this university, continually visit the university.”
With increasing numbers, accommodations must be made to ensure the university can take on more students.
“We are continually looking at making sure that we can accommodate the students that we are admitting to the university and the ones that are returning,” Bowie said.
Bowie explained over this past year, new faculty was brought on because of demands in certain programs and colleges. He explained the university is making adjustments to accommodate students academically and through facilities.
“As a matter of fact, we’re having conversations about the next year and what things we saw from this incoming influx that we had of students for this fall and what adjustments that we need to make for the next year in order to accommodate because we think that we’re gonna see continued increases in several areas,” Bowie said.
Housing is a topic of conversation as it is in high demand. There was a high demand for housing this year because of new students that wanted to live on campus, as well as students that wanted to remain on campus.
Bowie explained how UL Lafayette combatted this issue.
“We did have to work with a lot of our local apartment complexes to accommodate many of our students. So, we were successful in doing that, and we’ll continue those relationships with our community, but we as a university as well are looking at how we can better manage the beds that we have on our campus,” said Bowie.
This increase in students means good things for the university. The growing enrollment is a testament to the quality of the university.
“It’s exciting for us and I think exciting for the future of our university, community and our state as well, that we have a university like us that is meeting the needs and demands of our students,” Bowie said.
The university wants these enrollment numbers to continue to increase over time.
“We’re working on things like continuing to improve our retention rates, because when you bring in large numbers of new students like that, then if you do well on your retention rate, that’s where your enrollment is going to grow. You’re going to see over the next few years that we’re going to grow and our goal is to get the overall enrollment to 20,000, we’re just a 1,000 away from that right now,” Bowie said.