[media-credit id=23 align=”alignright” width=”300″]Enrollment pushed by job market.[/media-credit]

Students rush through the Shepherd Union Building between classes. That mass of students has grown in the last year, as enrollment rose by roughly 1,300 students this school year. Some of that growth could be from students returning to school in lieu of searching for a job.

Students who have attended Weber State University for several years might be noticing the increased difficulty in navigating crowds as they make their way across campus.

Over the last two years, WSU has experienced massive growth in terms of how many students are enrolled in the school. During the 2010 fall semester, the number of students attending WSU overall was 24,048. This semester, it has risen to 25,301, according to a report by the Institutional Research Office at WSU.

Steven Kerr, the director for institutional research at WSU, explained what he felt was the reason for the large growth in student enrollment.

“Over the last two to three years, I think it has had a lot to do with the economy,” he said. “A lot of students have come back to school and have lost jobs, or students getting out of high school had a more difficult time finding jobs, so they came to school instead of going out and getting jobs like they might have.”

Angel Garza is a WSU senior majoring in athletic training and considering enrollment in the BIS program. Garza said that there were many reasons he had continued attending WSU, including that he wants a career he is passionate about. Among these reasons, however, are financial concerns for himself and his children.

“Yeah, I guess I’m doing it because the economy is not that great and my job doesn’t pay all that well,” he said. “So that’s why I’m doing it also, so I can have a better life later in the future.”

During a time in her life when she could afford to do so, WSU sophomore Stephanie McKee left her job with the State of Utah, for which she had permanency. However, the good situation she found herself in quickly dissolved. Upon returning to reacquire her job, McKee found that it now required a university degree, which it previously had not. This prompted her to return to school to attain a degree, and she is currently working on her generals.

“I think because of the recession . . . The demands are becoming higher, and the demands in the work force are requiring people to have degrees,” McKee said.

In terms of what kind of an effect the higher number of students is having on WSU, Kerr explained that the explosion in enrollment is putting pressure on the school budget. Both Garza and McKee had to get money from the school in order to help pay their tuition, with McKee receiving a combination of grants, scholarships and loans, and Garza getting scholarships from the WSU Multicultural Student Center. This has come at the same time the university has had to make cuts in its budget over the last two years.

Although there will probably not be long-term problems associated with this current trend, rising enrollment numbers are not expected to continue. Kerr explained that, according to studies by the Utah System for Higher Education, the high rate of enrollment should curb off in the near future.

“I don’t think it’s going to continue like it has,” Kerr said. “We might see small growth over the next few years, but I doubt we’re going to see 5 to 10 percent growth over the next two to three years.”

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