CWU News

CWU Tops Washington in Student Application Growth

CWU is number one among Washington state colleges and universities for experiencing a surge in enrollment applications during the past five years, according to 24/7 Wall Street, a national financial news and information website. Overall, CWU ranked 22nd in the country with an 89.9 percent increase during that period.


The website based its findings on data encompassing nearly 600 four-year, post-secondary institutions provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. From that list, editors identified the 100 colleges where applications climbed the most.


Josh Hibbard, CWU interim VP for Admissions and Enrollment“Central is one of the best-kept secrets in higher education,” says Josh Hibbard, interim vice president for Admissions and Enrollment for CWU’s Strategic Enrollment Management. “Our unique locations, affordable tuition, and high-quality academic programs are hard to beat. We also work hard to help students successfully navigate the application process, which is often a barrier for students.”


Hibbard noted that CWU’s first-year applications rose from 5,201 for the 2015-16 academic year to 10,169—or nearly twice as many—for the 2018-19 school year. When looking at fall quarter application numbers alone, the growth was more than double, going from 4,940 in 2015 to 9,885 for this fall.


“In addition to our great locations, value, and quality academic programs, students are choosing Central over other institutions because of our diversity, our inclusivity, and welcoming nature,” Hibbard said. “It’s just who we are as an institution.”


The jump in applications was just as dramatic for students from various ethnic, racial, and other minority groups.


“For the first time in our history, more than half [51.71 percent] of all of our first-year applications came from traditionally underrepresented populations,” Hibbard reports. “In 2015, that was just 40 percent. When you compare the count of applications, we’ve grown from 1,999 for fall quarter 2015 to 5,111 for this fall quarter.”


The reason for the overall application increase is, in part, a result of the university’s dedication to expanding higher education access, including many first-generation college students.


“Our enrollment management office is working hard to create pathways to college, especially for those who had not planned on attending college” Hibbard explains. “For some of our students, their options aren’t just choosing Central over another college—the choice is between us and not even considering going to college. We want to encourage these students to apply for college and consider Central because we believe in them and know they can succeed here.” 


24/7 Wall Street is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.


Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,