Official spring enrollment hits 5,288 at FHSU with more to come

HAYS, KS -- Dr. Diane Pfeifer, interim FHSU registrar, announced today that total headcount enrollment at Fort Hays State University was 5,288 as of the 20th day of the spring 2001 semester. The Kansas Board of Regents uses the 20th day number as a basis of comparison for its six universities.

The 5,288 figure represents a 1.4 percent increase over the spring semester of a year ago, which had a 20th day enrollment of 5,217. The official 20th day enrollment also increased in two other categories. The total hours of credit taken by all students is 60,352, which is an increase of 778 from a year ago. Also, full time equivalent enrollment (the total credit hours divided by the headcount) is 4,301, which is an increase of 42 from a year ago.

"We attribute our continued growth in large measure to the continuing expansion of our Virtual College," President Edward H. Hammond commented.

The Virtual College, which delivers courses from FHSU's College of Business and Leadership, College of Education, College of Health and Life Sciences, and College of Arts and Sciences over the Internet, videotape and other means, shows a headcount enrollment this semester of 1,054.

Those are students who will not set foot on the campus this semester.

President Hammond noted that 27 is the average age of those students, and 67 percent of them are women. "The Virtual College is the vehicle of choice for women who have left the workforce to raise their families but want to prepare themselves to return to full-time employment in a few years qualified for higher positions and higher pay," he explained. That is one of just many examples of how the versatility of the Virtual College makes a college education available to people who otherwise would not have that opportunity.

Another 910 students on campus are also taking Virtual College courses this semester along with their traditional classroom courses, so the total Virtual College headcount for the spring semester is actually 1,964.

The president also attributed the university's growth in enrollment to its new partnership with the U.S. Navy in the Navy College Program. That program began in January, offering sailors and their dependents the opportunity to enroll in FHSU courses through the Virtual College no matter where they may be stationed around the globe.

"The Navy College Program students are just beginning to trickle in," he said, "but we expect to see a significant impact on our enrollment this summer."

The 20th day headcount number is no longer a very accurate gauge of enrollment trends at Fort Hays State University, Historically, nearly all college students enrolled at the beginning of a semester. But that has changed. The FHSU Virtual College offers many "asynchronous" courses, which are geared toward students whose jobs or family responsibilities make attendance in traditional classes difficult. These distance education courses allow students to start at various times throughout the semester. The Virtual College also offers continuing education workshops at various times that provide college credit for professionals.

Because of the impact of this "rolling" enrollment in the Virtual College, numbers continue to climb throughout a semester. For example, FHSU's 20th day enrollment for the fall 2000 semester showed a decrease of a half a percentage point from fall 1999, but by the end of the semester that had changed. The final enrollment report for fall 2000, which includes students who enrolled after the 20th day, showed a headcount of 5,784.

That was 1 percent higher than the final enrollment report for fall 1999 of 5,716.

The world is changing and Fort Hays State University is changing with it. More and more students are taking advantage of the versatility offered by the Virtual College, so the 20th day headcount is becoming a less accurate indicator of the patterns in FHSU enrollment.

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