By Will Ferguson, WSU News

Preparations are underway for what could be a record-breaking number of first-year students at Washington State University’s Pullman campus this fall.

Additional sections of core freshman classes have been added. Work crews are currently refurbishing Waller Hall, a men’s residence hall that was closed in 2015, while rooms in Orton Hall that typically are used for single occupancy are being converted to doubles. Plus, the Alive orientation summer sessions required for all new students are being expanded to accommodate the estimated 4,300 or more new Cougs enrolling for the 2018-19 academic year.

“The size and academic achievements of our incoming class is really reflective of the value of a WSU education and the effort we are putting into recruiting top students,” said Michelle Henley-Lewis, director of recruitment. “Overall, we had a much larger number of students applying early, completing applications and confirming their attendance at WSU before the deadline.”

The incoming new class also features an unprecedented 186 Washington Regent Scholars, students who were nominated as being one of the two most distinguished seniors in their high schools.

While enrollment at WSU’s Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Everett and Global campuses remains open, WSU Pullman stopped accepting new first-year admissions applications on May 4, and confirmations were closed as of May 14.

The application priority date and confirmation deadline had gone unenforced in prior years because enrollment had not reached capacity.

Previously, WSU Pullman’s two highest enrollment years were 2011 and 2015 when 4,176 students and 4,220 students enrolled for their first year. In 2017, freshmen enrollment at WSU Pullman was 3,939.

“The opportunity to serve a larger number of students is consistent with our land-grant mission and our mandate from the State of Washington” said Provost and Executive Vice President Dan Bernardo. “While we understand that some students and parents may have questions about the resources available to accommodate a large incoming freshman class, rest assured WSU’s administration, academic colleges and other units are planning ahead to ensure that the incoming freshman class has access to convenient on-campus housing, finds it easy to get into the classes they need, and can be involved in a diverse range of campus activities, including undergraduate research.”

Meeting students’ needs

In addition to adding class sections in the UCORE curriculum that incoming freshmen are expected to take during their first year, many academic departments plan to hire additional faculty members to maintain WSU’s 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio and meet the needs of incoming students.

WSU Housing and Residence Life is taking action to ensure there will be affordable housing available to all incoming first-year students. In the event that bed spacing in Orton and newly reopened Waller Hall fills up, the University will consider giving students the option of a triple-occupancy room preference on their housing application, or by emailing the housing office. The option will only be implemented if necessary after all additional beds are filled and will include discounted pricing.

WSU’s Alive! orientation is seeing a record number of early registrations and each program is accepting 30 more students than last year. Also, the new Hawaii Alive! session served about 100 additional students who otherwise would have attended a Pullman session, opening up more available spaces.