Enrollments after the official reporting date
boost fall 2002 headcount beyond 6,500
HAYS, KS -- Records are made to be broken.
On Sept. 23, 2002, the official 20th day of classes for the fall semester, Fort Hays State University reported an all-time high enrollment of 6,392. That record didn't last long. With 25 additional on-campus enrollments after the 20th day, plus another 132 enrollments in the Virtual College, the total enrollment by semester's end had soared to 6,549 students.
Before the fall 2002 semester, the university's highest enrollments had been 5,863 on the 20th day in fall 1980, 5,816 at the end of the fall 1997 semester and 5,812 at the end of the fall 2001 semester.
The final fall 2002 enrollment of 6,549 is higher by 686 students -- an amazing 11.7 percent -- than the university's previous high enrollment in the fall semester of 1980.
The final enrollment numbers also show tremendous growth from the previous year. The final on-campus enrollment for fall 2002 of 4,527 was a 1.0 percent increase over the final fall 2001 on-campus enrollment of 4,482. The final off-campus enrollment for fall 2002 of 2,022 was a 52.0 percent increase over the final fall 2001 off-campus enrollment of 1,330. Overall, the final total enrollment for fall 2002 of 6,549 was a 12.7 percent increase over the final fall 2001 total enrollment of 5,812.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, attributes the high enrollment in fall 2002 to two factors: 1. the effectiveness of the university's "Affordable Success" strategy; and 2. the fact that a slowing economy typically inspires many displaced workers to pursue additional education.
"The 'Affordable Success' message works because it is true," he said. "FHSU was already the best buy in higher education in the entire state even before severe tuition hikes last summer at other state universities made the gap even larger. Also, the 'success' claim can be substantiated by the just-announced 98 percent job placement rate for FHSU graduates in the 2001-02 academic year, and by numerous victories in academic competitions, including national championships last year for the Fort Hays State debate and financial planning teams."
The university did not begin tabulating supplemental headcounts until 1988. The supplemental headcounts are closely comparable to the 20th day headcounts before 1988 because late enrollments were far less numerous before the recent popularity of the Virtual College.
The Virtual College delivers courses to students at locations and times that fit their busy schedules. It delivers "mediated" undergraduate and graduate courses from FHSU's College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Leadership, College of Education, and College of Health and Life Sciences through various formats, including but not limited to the Internet, video tapes, CD-ROM and Internet Protocol Television. Students continue to enroll as new courses are offered throughout a semester, so final enrollments at the end of a semester become significantly higher than 20th day headcounts.
The 20th day of classes is the official enrollment day observed by the Kansas Board of Regents for each of its six universities because it affords a standard basis for comparison, but President Hammond has consistently pointed out in recent years that the changing face of higher education makes the official 20th day headcount numbers less and less relevant, especially at Fort Hays State, which is a leader in distance education.