WAYNE – Even among the COVID-19 pandemic, the incoming freshman class at Wayne State College marked the second largest in its history.
According to a release from WSC, the 821 new freshmen on campus for the 2020-21 academic year marked an 11.7 percent increase and is just five students short of the largest class that entered in 1968 during the height of the Vietnam War.
The freshman class growth, combined with a 2.41 percent increase in graduate students and a 5.94 percent increase in returning undergraduate students, puts the college at 3,865 total students, which is 4.77 percent more than fall 2019. Wayne State’s total enrollment has grown 20 percent in the past three years.
Opportunities for Wayne State students come in the form of expanded academic offerings, new initiatives and partnerships, access to the most affordable four-year and graduate degrees in our region, generous scholarship packages as well as new and renovated facilities. Each of these areas played a critical role in positioning the college for sustained growth.
The College has continued to add to its quality academic programs to meet the demand of the Nebraska economy and workforce. Additional academic pathways include agriculture, engineering technology, fermentation science, mechanical and agricultural engineering, manufacturing management, applied science and accelerated nursing.
One of the chief new initiatives at Wayne State is a partnership with the Aksarben Foundation’s Northeast Nebraska Growing Together program launched last spring. The first cohort of 26 students received scholarships provided by the Aksarben Foundation and began their education at WSC as freshmen this fall for a three-year on-campus education to be followed by a fourth year of living in Norfolk while working for a local business. This year, WSC students will be pursuing degree programs across business, communications and computer science.
The College announced in August that the Nebraska Legislature approved the Career Scholarship Program to provide funding for student support aimed at growing the state’s workforce in high demand fields. The newly created scholarships will provide a total of $1.6 million to be awarded to Wayne State students over four years who are pursuing careers in critical workforce areas. The funding will help support WSC’s Cooperative Education program as part of the Growing Together initiative.
In addition to providing consistent and generous assistance to students through a robust scholarship process, the College lowered the online rate to $359 per credit hour for graduate-level courses for PK-12 educators. Graduate-level courses that lead to master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction and special education are included in the new rate, which makes these degrees among the most affordable in the state for teachers.
The past five years at Wayne State have been marked by several new and renovated facilities, which included the construction of the Center for Applied Technology, Northeast Nebraska’s premier industrial technology, manufacturing, and computer science facility. The College has also added a Criminal Justice Laboratory, completely renovated its high-rise residence hall and made dramatic improvements to athletic facilities and the Kanter Student Center.