Enrollment for fall 2018 down in West Virginia, WVU-Parkersburg

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Enrollment in colleges and universities across the Mountain State has declined from a year ago-and West Virginia University at Parkersburg is no exception.

Higher education officials say the number of students attending four-year colleges and universities in West Virginia has fallen 3% from 2017-the same percentage as the enrollment decline at WVU-Parkersburg.

But WVU-P's enrollment ahead of spring semester is up 3.5%.

Although it has out-of-town and even foreign students, the college relies heavily on the local community for its student population.

College President Dr. Christopher Gilmer says he is working on a strategic plan for future enrollment with area high schools.

"We really feel like the students we need to be recruiting, retaining and graduating are the students from the high schools in our service area," Dr. Gilmer said Monday. "And this will be where we'll be placing the greatest amount of our attention with our new enrollment strategy."

Final figures for the fall show WVU-P's enrollment at 2,406.

West Virginia's Higher Education Policy Commission says enrollment statewide was about 62,700, with first-time freshmen totaling 10,700.

Dr. Gilmer says part of the reason for the enrollment decline-ironically-is the improved economy.

That's because new students often enter community colleges to learn new skills during weak economies.