SOUTHERN COLORADO – Two major universities in the Pikes Peak Region are seeing some positive growth.
This week, CSU-Pueblo announced the total headcount this fall is about 3% lower compared to last year. However, new student enrollments (freshmen and transfers) are up by more than 4%.
CSU-Pueblo sophomore Justin DeHerrera said, “It’s awesome to see like how big our school is growing just sports-wise, school-wise, academically-wise.”
CSU-Pueblo Vice President for Enrollment Management, Communication and Student Affairs Chrissy Holliday said, “We’ve had a few years of stagnant or declining enrollment and that’s something that we’ve worked really hard to change.”
2018 fall enrollment figures revealed an increase in new students as well as record-setting freshmen retention.
“Our student retention was about 68 percent…we’ve really re-engaged in the community. We’ve made a concerted effort to refocus on southern Colorado and actually the southwestern part of the U.S., and that’s where we saw our growth.”
More out of state students are coming to the university, but predominantly, the campus is made up of Coloradans.
DeHerrera said, “I picked CSU-Pueblo just because I grew up here.”
Pueblo County’s marijuana-funded scholarships may also be a factor as to why locals are sticking around.
Holliday said, “We have seen very small incremental growth in Pueblo County this year so there’s a chance that that had something to do with it.”
For UCCS, the more than 12,500 students enrolled this fall brings the university up 1% compared to last year and into its 12th straight year of growth. There are 2,023 freshmen which is the second-largest class in history.
Director of Admissions Chris Beiswanger said, “People like living in Colorado Springs. It’s a great place to be and so we have a lot of local students that will choose here versus other places.”
Sophomore Ronan Witte said, “I’m from Colorado Springs.”
All 50 states are represented at UCCS.
Beiswanger said students are coming from “California, Texas, Hawaii, Arizona and the Midwest.”
Senior Bryce Whittle said, “I’m from Salt Lake City, Utah.”
Students are coming for a variety of reasons.
Witte said, “I wanted to actually get as far away as possible, but after I toured UCCS I realized I love the campus and the people here are really here for your success.”
Whittle said, “This is the only university that I felt like I could live at and go to.”
Unique programs like exercise science and engineering, and business remaining the top major are also factors.
To keep this momentum going CSU-Pueblo said it will be looking at data to see what worked in order to build on that success.
For UCCS it’s about stability and keeping a strong focus on students to make sure their experience is successful.