HU reports enrollment increase

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By Don Pace

First-time freshman enrollment at Highlands University continues to grow, an official said.

Thomasina Ortiz-Gallegos, director of academic support at Highlands, said that as of Feb. 27, 1,836 freshmen have submitted applications for the fall semester, compared to 1,295 in 2007, an increase of 541 first-time freshman. She told the university’s academic affairs committee that there’s still a lot of work to do getting transcripts and other paperwork completed before the university can say for sure how many freshmen will be in the classroom.

Looking back to the fall of 2006, the numbers look even better — in that year, 796 new freshman enrolled, which is a difference of 1,040 students between then and now.

“The admissions and recruitment offices are working to obtain mainly transcripts for these freshman, which is primarily what we’re missing from the freshman applications,” Ortiz-Gallegos said.

President Jim Fries told the Optic, “We’re over 30 percent ahead from this time last year in terms of the number of completed applications, and that certainly bodes well for continued enrollment growth.”

Fries said growing enrollment helps the university in several ways, but one of the major ways is that it creates a sense of activity and opportunities for students to interact with one another. He said it also sends positive messages about the university and what’s happening here to the rest of the state, and it helps justify the many building programs that are in place in anticipation of a larger enrollment.

Ortiz-Gallegos said surveys indicate that a lot of students like the small college atmosphere and the one-on-one attention from faculty is another draw for high school seniors and their parents looking at what they want in a college.

Ortiz-Gallegos said the Hope Scholarship is still available for first-time freshman who have never attended another institution of higher education. She said the scholarship covers tuition only.