WSUV freshmen break enrollment record

On first day of class, campus welcomes most first-years yet

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter




First freshman class admitted: 2006.

Freshman class size: Expected to exceed 210.

Enrollment: About 3,000.

Years at Salmon Creek campus: 18.

New degree program: Hospitality business management in the College of Business.

New policy: Smoke-free campus as of Aug. 1.

New schedule: Five-day schedule replaces four-day schedule.

Web: Washington State University Vancouver

Framed by a picture-perfect view of Mount St. Helens, Miranda Bierscheid, 18, stood with two friends near the Firstenburg Family Fountain on Monday morning, the first day of fall semester at Washington State University Vancouver.

Bierscheid, who graduated from La Center High School in June, is a member of the university's largest freshman class to date.

"We anticipate this freshman class enrollment will surpass the 2008 freshman enrollment of 210," said Nancy Youlden, vice chancellor of student affairs at WSU Vancouver.

Final enrollment numbers will not be released until Aug. 30, Youlden said.

She attributed the increased enrollment to word-of-mouth advertising. Students have a good experience and share that experience with friends who are considering college, she said.

"But the economy and students staying closer to home is a piece of it," Youlden said of the increased number of freshmen who choose to stay in Clark County rather than attend state schools that require students to spend thousands of dollars on room and board.

At Washington State University in Pullman, students living in dorms pay an additional $6,930 for their room and $3,938 for their board. That saves the

WSUV students a total of $10,868 in annual costs. Over four years, that's a savings of $43,472.

At this point, WSUV doesn't offer student housing, although the campus is working toward offering residence halls in the future.

Bierscheid, who spent a year in the applied medical science program at the Clark County Skills Center, plans to become a nurse.

"Campus is only 20 minutes from home," Bierscheid said. "I wanted to stay local and live at home. It's cheaper. It's going to save me a ton of money. And it's really pretty here," she said, waving her hand toward Mount St. Helens.

Justin Roberts and Dexter Hamilton, both 18, met during freshman orientation and have become friends. Roberts is commuting 35 miles each way from Kelso. But his grandmother lives in Vancouver and has offered him a place to stay if the commuting gets too tough.

Roberts is double-majoring in business administration and marketing. He visited the Pullman campus and considered Central Washington University in Ellensburg, but he chose WSUV for its DECA program, which is an international association of marketing students. Roberts is an officer for the collegiate DECA program.

"It's saving me money," Roberts said. "And look at this place. Isn't this a beautiful campus?"

Hamilton, who graduated from Union High School in June, said he looked at other colleges. "But WSUV is closest. Saves money. More academic," he said.

Haley Elmer, 17, of Battle Ground graduated from CAM Academy in June. The marketing major plans to become a buyer in the fashion industry. She considered George Fox University in Oregon and College of Idaho, both private colleges with higher tuition than state schools, but said she chose WSUV because "it's one of the best schools."

"WSUV is only 10 minutes from home, so I'm saving money on room and board too," Elmer said.

Teresa Florendo's story is different. She isn't a recent high school graduate. Florendo, 50, earned about 200 credits when she attended Southern Oregon University and the University of Oregon more than 20 years ago. Although she's not technically a freshman, it was her first day of school in two decades. The Vancouver resident is a member of Eastern Cherokee tribe and has been employed in Clark County schools in Title VII programs working with Native American youth. At WSUV she'll be completing her capstone project to earn her undergraduate degree and then entering the master's program in applied policy and federal Indian law.

"Commuting to Portland State University in downtown Portland wasn't really an option," Florendo said about choosing WSUV. "It's close, and it's a small community know for its research," she said. "I'm very excited about the opportunities the campus offers."

Enrollment held steady at 3,000 students, said Brenda Alling, campus director of marketing and communications.

The campus is smoke-free as of Aug. 1, Alling said. Another change this term is that a five-day class schedule replaced the previous four-day schedule. WSU Vancouver also is offering a new degree program in hospitality business management.

For the first time in several years, tuition did not increase. Tuition and fees for a full-time, undergraduate resident is $5,693 per semester, or $11,386 annually.

"No change from last year -- that's refreshing news," Alling said.

Susan Parrish: 360-735-4515;;