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Students walk to class last month on the first day of fall classes at Texas Woman's University.

Both the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University campuses hit record high enrollment numbers this fall.

UNT has 39,330 students enrolled this fall, and TWU has 13,353 students enrolled at the Denton campus, according to data submitted to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Both bolstered major gains in the true freshman class, also called the first-time-in-college students: 4.5% at TWU and 15.3% at UNT. This number was a major accomplishment at UNT, said Neal Smatresk, president of the university.

“I think it really speaks to our growing reputation, and students value the education they’ll get here,” he said. “When they come to visit campus, they fall in love with it because of how it feels to them and because of how people treat them.”

At TWU, the increase is part of ongoing efforts to increase communication with potential students and stay in touch until they get to campus in the fall, said Randall Langston, vice president for enrollment management. The school is emailing prospective students after tours with links to apply and has started a text message communication program, too, he said.

“We’ve put in a lot of effort to reach out to students directly,” he said. “It’s valuable to provide information to students so when they arrive on campus as a student, they’ve been communicated with and they’re connected once they arrive, and hopefully they feel a real sense of place when they get here.”

Both campuses also saw growth in their online-only student base: TWU has 3,689 enrolled strictly online, and UNT has 4,145 students taking classes exclusively online. Graduate enrollment increased at both schools, too. At TWU, there was a 2.2% rise in graduate students, and UNT had a 10% growth in master’s students.

This year’s numbers also showed that efforts to keep students continuously enrolled at UNT are working. Last year, UNT staff made a concentrated effort to boost retention numbers, with Smatresk instructing all faculty and staff to work toward the goal. In addition to the 79.3% retention rate, they also boosted four-year graduation by 4.5%, a trend staff is working to continue building on, Smatresk said.

“We think this is a big trend for the future,” he said. “That four-year graduation jump really heartened me. It means we eliminated some of the bottlenecks ... the retention numbers and graduation numbers make me most proud of the great people I get to work with.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @jennafduncan.

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