Full house: diving into the enrollment boom

Cars line every parking lot at UCO, and spots are scarce. This is because of an unprecedented influx of freshman enrollment. (The Vista/Ethan Brown)

The 2023 Fall semester has had the highest single-semester enrollment in UCO history, bucking the COVID-19-fueled trend of suppressed freshmen enrollment. We have around 800 more freshmen than last fall’s semester. At the time of writing, students can still add classes to their schedules. Consequently, estimates must suffice.

When asked about this enrollment spike, vice president for enrollment and student success Christopher Lynch stated, “We’re up over 25 percent. There is a huge vibe in the air this year. Kudos to admissions; there were a lot of changes made on what we do with admissions and how we recruit,” going on to say “schools don’t do this. We are the outlier in the United States.”

On-campus student housing is fully booked, with hundreds of students deciding to sign up for the convenience that spells. Undoubtedly, these drastic changes bring a great boon to the campus, with the liveliness of stampede week still in full swing. Music, food, plenty of events, and myriad extracurricular activities have made this first week remarkably lively on campus.

Despite a smaller graduating class of Oklahoma high school seniors, UCO admissions buck the trend. A boost in enrollment brings much-needed student engagement to the campus and facilitates a stronger Broncho community. However, this has not been a universal positive. This high enrollment has given a stress test of the university facilities.

Many essential items, such as engineering paper, have been hard to acquire at the campus bookstore. Some professors have only learned of the classes they are teaching during the first week of school. Furthermore, D2L crashed the first morning of classes, leading to a partly dampened reception for the newly enrolled.

One example of this is parking. With the wave of student parking permits, finding spots near most buildings is difficult. Autumn Inman, a Kinesiology major, had this to say. “[Parking on campus] has been pretty rough, … I knew it was pretty bad from people telling me about it, but I get here pretty early. It’s still a struggle.” The Vista reached out to campus police and transportation and parking services for comment but has not heard back.

While this new wave of enrollment may present some bumps in the road, it also brings energy to campus. Lynch summarized the new bustle and vigor. “This campus is aglow. There’s going to be celebrations, there’s going to be more students than you have ever seen,” he said.

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