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UNCW Sets Enrollment Record

By Jenny Callison, posted Aug 23, 2013

At its meeting Thursday, the University of North Carolina Wilmington board of trustees learned that the university has set a new enrollment record.

More than 14,000 students have registered for fall semester classes at the university, Terrance Curran, associate provost for enrollment management, confirmed Friday. Previous years' student body numbers have been just under the 14,000 mark.

“We have 14,096 students, which include graduate students as well as undergraduates; students on campus as well as distance learning students,” he said. “This represents about a one percent increase over last year.”

Curran said that UNCW’s enrollment is about 90 percent undergraduate, and the vast majority of all students take classes on the Wilmington campus. Only about 700 students take classes remotely.

Asked what has contributed to the growth in the university’s student body, Curran said that UNCW has distinguished itself with programs in several niche areas.

“We’ve got a world-class marine biology program, as well as well regarded programs in creative writing and film studies,” he said. “Our business school is a draw, of course, and we have a distinguished psychology program.”

In working to raise the profile of UNCW, officials have chosen to limit the rate of enrollment growth in order to make the university more selective, Curran said. And the number of applications has burgeoned.

“We had more than 13,000 applications for this year’s entering freshman class – an institutional record - and about 3,000 transfer applications, also a record,” Curran said. He added that the average entering freshman SAT score is 1190 (out of a possible 1600).

“We’ve also distinguished ourselves by our graduate outcomes,” Curran said. “UNCW has the second highest four-year graduation rate in the UNC system, and the third-highest six-year graduation rate. We’re a place of destination, no longer a back-up school. Close to 90 percent of our enrolled students say that we were their number-one choice.”

In 1996, Curran said, UNCW decided to serve the entire state of North Carolina, rather than being a regional school.

“Now we’re recognized nationally, in publications like the Princeton Review and U.S. News,” he said.

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