Despite coming off a pandemic year, Fort Lewis College welcomed 960 first-year undergraduate students for the fall semester, the largest freshman class in 17 years.
“The increase in enrollment is a true representation of FLC being able to offer, from admission to the time of completion, a close hands-on educational experience,” said Lauren Savage, spokeswoman with the college.
FLC attributes some of its enrollment success to the fact that it has in-person campus visits. Prospective students can meet with counselors and professors, many of whom are FLC alumni.
“Students and their families are so grateful they can see us in person and love that they truly get to know faculty and staff,” said Patrick Fredricks, assistant director of admissions. “One parent emailed us to say FLC is a ‘shining example of what it means to be inclusive, kind and engaging.’ That compliment affirms that we’re not just talking about these things, but actually making sure our families and students are experiencing them.”
Admissions at FLC prides itself on being accessible to incoming students.
“We’ve been working really hard to make sure the experience prospective students have in learning about FLC is authentic to the experience they will have as students,” said Director of Admissions Jess Savage. “The admission team is open and accessible, and happy to meet one-on-one and in person – all things students can expect in their academic experience.”
FLC credits some of its success bringing in new students to its decision to return to in-person learning.
“The pandemic taught us about the importance of community,” said FLC Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Cheryl Nixon. “We’ve always known Fort Lewis to be close-knit, but COVID has helped us discover again the importance of caring.”
FLC decided to return to in-person learning last fall, and Savage said that decision was made because hands-on, in-person learning is what drives the sense of community at FLC and makes the learning environment unique.
“We had students come back to campus because what makes FLC such an excellent higher education experience is its hands-on and experiential learning that all of our academic programs offer,” Savage said.
Because of the uptick in enrollment, FLC is starting this semester with its most diverse student body ever. FLC’s enrollment bumped up to 3,550, with 3,443 undergraduates and 107 graduate students, including the new freshmen.
Students of color now make up 59% of the student body, representing 185 Native American tribes and Alaska Native villages, all 50 states, Guam and Puerto Rico, and 27 countries.
This year’s freshman class of 960 students is up from last year, when FLC welcomed 812 freshmen and up from 2019 when FLC enrolled 760 freshmen.
“We’ve been seeing increases in the last two years,” Savage said. “For us, that’s exactly what we expected based on the work we’ve done across the institution.”
Last week, U.S. News & World Report ranked FLC in the Top 10 for ethnic diversity at national liberal arts colleges.