It may seem as though the dorm rooms, hallways and classrooms at the University of Nevada, Reno, have gotten smaller over the summer, but it is not the size of the campus that has changed. This semester 22,000 students will be attending the university, an increase from last year’s enrollment of 20,898 students.
Last week, 2,000 students moved into UNR’s seven residence halls. According to university officials, these residence halls are at 121 percent capacity.
UNR’s newest residence hall, Peavine Hall, and Argenta Hall were originally built to accommodate two students per room; this semester both residence halls will house three students in each room.
“The room is a really, really tight fit,” said incoming freshman and Argenta Hall resident Rebecca Knight. “I don’t know how all three of us are going to fit all of our stuff into a room originally built for two.”
While the on-campus residence halls are far above capacity, UNR will have a smaller freshman class this year than previous years, with just 3,600 freshmen enrolled for the fall — about 250 less than last fall.
Early reports of the increase have returning UNR students anxious for the increased amount of students the new fall semester has brought.
“I can already predict how this semester will go,” said returning senior Mable Villanueva. “Huge class sizes will leave students stressed out because of less one-on-one time with their professor, parking and lines will be a nightmare, dorms are always an issue. There is so much construction, so navigating classes will already be tough, and adding so many new freshmen and returning students will make it so hard to get to classes on time without killing each other.”
With a decrease in freshman enrollment since last fall, the increase in student enrollment this semester is contributing to a high retention rate. Last fall the retention rate was 81 percent, a 1 percent increase from fall 2014.
“Right now there are slightly more than 3,600 students enrolled for fall. The growth in total enrollment will come from continuing students,” said Shannon Ellis, UNR’s vice president for student services.
Last fall’s high retention rate also increased both in-state and out-of-state enrollment. In-state enrollment increased by 4.5 percent and out-of-state by 8.2 percent. UNR officials reported that the diversity of the university’s student body also increased from fall 2014 to fall 2015. In 2014, underrepresented students made up 33 percent of the total enrollment; last fall it was 35 percent.
Ellis said the university will not know the final retention rate, the diversity of the student body, or the details of in-state and out-of-state enrollment until after Sept. 9, the last day to add and drop classes.
Across the country, colleges and universities have seen a drop in enrollment totals over the last four years. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a research center that works to provide higher-education institutions with educational reports, college enrollment totals have decreased by 6 percent since 2012. This year, the total number of students who have enrolled in higher-education institutions is 1.7 percent lower than last year.
National high school graduation rates have increased since 2013, but the percentage of high school graduates who enrolled in college immediately after graduating high school fell 3 percent since 2008, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
In southern Nevada, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, reported that 29,000 students are enrolled to attend their fall semester — this is around the same number administrators released last fall. UNLV also reported an incoming freshman class of 4,000 students, a number that has also remained the same since last fall.
UNR has reported enrollment increases since 2013, when the school welcomed 19,934 students in the fall. Since 2013, the diversity of student body and retention rates have increased.
“I think increased enrollment is a really great thing,” said incoming freshman Hannah Ruth. “It means that more students are finding out what a great school we have hidden over here in Reno. I think it also makes graduates of this university look better if diversity is going up and if people are choosing to finish school here instead of California or UNLV.”
Rachel Spacek can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter@TheSagebrush.