Western Technical College spring term enrollment up nearly five percent from 2021

Other La Crosse colleges are either staying flat or declining in enrollment from last spring

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Enrollment in colleges and universities is dropping nationwide.

But that’s not the case at Western Technical College.

The spring semester means a fresh start, and a time to improve.

Western Technical College’s spring term is already taking off, as student enrollment there saw its biggest increase since the start of the pandemic.

“That’s actually extremely exciting,” vice president of finance and operations Wade Hackbarth said. “We’re very happy to see that.”

Western’s enrollment is up nearly five percent from last year’s spring term.

Hackbarth says the campus has been able to retain students better.

He says this is largely due more support services and access to student resources through federal funding.

“We’ve really been making some serious efforts to really do what we can to have a higher level of retention,” Hackbarth said.

Many Western students do their clinicals at local healthcare systems — including Gundersen — to get jobs in the future.

“It’s a beautiful relationship, and it’s worked very, very well,” chief nursing officer Heather Schimmers said.

So, having more students this semester could address the shortages that are hurting the healthcare field.

“If we could just get a few more positions filled on a regular basis, it would mean the world,” Schimmers said. “The fact that they’re able to take on a five percent greater population of students is remarkable and so appreciated.”

A big deal for the La Crosse region to see more students advancing their education.

“If we can see this consistent growth across the board, we feel great that we’ll be able to serve our employers better that way, too,” Hackbarth said.

This semester, Western has about 1,023 full-time students.

In total, there are just under 3,500 full and part-time students on campus.

While Western’s student enrollment went up, that wasn’t the case for other local colleges.

A UW-La Crosse spokesperson says its enrollment is likely to stay flat compared to last spring.

Meanwhile, Viterbo University’s enrollment in that same time period dropped roughly three percent.