TORRINGTON – Enrollment is up at Eastern Wyoming College, although headcounts are still lower than they were four years ago.
The college released data showing 594 students enrolled as of 10 days into the school year. EWC sends the student tally each year to the Wyoming Community College Commission.
Seventy-five percent of students are at the Torrington campus. Eighty-five students, or 14 percent, are enrolled in Douglas, with the remaining 63 students taking courses at outreach centers in Crook, Weston, Niobrara, Converse, Platte and Goshen counties.
Heidi Edmunds, EWC vice president for academic services, said the numbers are a snapshot and do not reflect total enrollment over the school year.
“We continue to enroll high school students, outreach students, and Block B students throughout the semester,” she said, referring to courses that start later in the school year. “We will have a more complete picture of our enrollment at the conclusion of the semester.”
While higher than the enrollment over the past two years, the number of students in fall 2019 is lower than it was in 2016, when 636 students were signed at EWC.
While the Torrington and Douglas campuses both saw increases in their numbers, there was a notable difference in enrollment by student status.
The number of full-time students dropped by two percent, while part-time students surged by 31 percent. Part time students now make up almost one-third of the student body, compared to 28 percent four years ago.
“Typically, they’re part-time because they can’t afford to go full time and they need to work,” said EWC President Lesley Travers. “If they’re not eligible for any Pell grants or anything like that, they’re really apt to go part time until they can figure out if they’re even going to enjoy college.”
The increase in the number of full-time students enrolled is part of a longer-term trend at EWC, while the jump in part-time students is an anomaly in an otherwise declining trend since 2016.
Travers said enrollment at colleges nationally and locally fluctuates with the economy. Part-time enrollment, in her view, reflects a personal preference to try classes and explore career options, as well as a financial necessity.
“Right now, we’re seeing more part time (students) and that leads me to believe that people don’t want to lose those part-time jobs while they’re trying to go to school,” she said.