Western Kentucky University retention looking good, despite lower headcount

BOWLING GREEN Ky.-Due to factors like smaller graduating high school classes and students opting to work full time after high school, student headcount traffic has taken a hit. A 6.6% hit to be exact. But that hasn’t stopped the Big Red campus from having the student retention rate at an all-time high.

School officials said the high retention rate comes from the university prioritizing student success rather than focusing on a headcount.

“A lot of it is due to the attention that we give our students. We are dedicated as a university community to making sure that we bring in students who had the ability to finish, and we give them the support mechanisms to allow them to complete their degree on time,” said director of media relations Bob Skipper.

As a result of this attention, the student retention has increased to 72.9%. Additionally, the out of state students who pay more in tuition are helping to balance out the budget that would otherwise be lost from a low headcount.

“My grandparents were professors here at Western way back when. They were in the geology and English departments. My mom is an alumnus, and so is my mom’s sister,” said WKU junior Will Naylor, originally from California.

Out of state students also say the resources offered by the university are part of the many things that attracts them to the hill.

“We have good programs such as the nursing and recreation programs which is accredited. That’s one of the reasons that I came here,” Naylor said.

Looking back at how well the university is doing, Skipper said the lower headcount isn’t even a big hurdle in the grand scheme of things.

“It makes me feel like we’re doing the right things. We’re bringing students who can be successful, we’re doing the things that we need to do to make them successful, and that’s what we’re all about, student success,” Skipper said.