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Campaign drives UW-Whitewater applications up 87 percent

November 20, 2020

Written by Jeffrey Angileri | Photo by Craig Schreiner


Two people sitting at a table with a UW-Whitewater banner behind them.

About 4,300 prospective students applied to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in September and October during a no-cost application campaign, which waived the university’s application fee, an increase of about 2,000 applications from the same time last year.

“We’re excited to see such enthusiasm and interest in joining the Warhawk family,” said Jackie Briggs, director of admissions. “The application fee can be a barrier for some students, so by eliminating it during this timeframe, we were able to make the first step of the admissions process as easy as possible. And we appreciate our colleagues in Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement, who worked with us to make this opportunity possible.”

The campaign totals include applications for new freshmen and transfer students at both the Whitewater and Rock County campuses for the Spring, Summer and Fall 2021 semesters. On Oct. 31, the final day of the campaign, about 1,100 people applied, more than a four-fold increase over a typical weekend, which brings in about 200 to 300 applications.

Briggs notes that not all applicants will enroll because students apply to multiple schools and the higher education environment is extremely competitive. The focus is now on building relationships with prospective students and their families to show what sets UW-Whitewater apart.

With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting traditional campus visits, the admissions staff relies on virtual tours, regular emails, text messages and one-on-one communications from admissions counselors to show students how a high quality and affordable college education at UW-Whitewater can help them accomplish their academic, professional and personal goals.

“Ensuring a successful transition and first year for new students is one of our highest priorities. To this end, we offer a wide variety of programs and services to make this happen,” said Susan Johnson, assistant dean for student success in the College of Letters and Sciences. “One such opportunity is joining a learning community where students with similar interests enroll in a few shared classes, live together in the same residence hall and participate in out-of-class activities tied to the community’s theme. The research apprenticeship program is another opportunity for first-year students to get early exposure to their major by working with a faculty member on a shared research project.”

Another important key to student success is connecting students to support services like the tutoring center — offering more than 150,000 hours of free tutoring each year — and to the faculty in their chosen major.

Our faculty choose UW-Whitewater because they have a commitment to undergraduate education. This is clear in the passion they bring to the classroom and the way they incorporate experiential learning, research and community engagement in their courses,” Johnson said.

The no-cost application campaign was generously funded by the UW-Whitewater Foundation.