SHERIDAN — There was an 11 percent decrease in the number of Sheridan residents attending the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie from 2013 to 2014.
That’s 31 fewer Sheridan residents going to UW, while at the same time Sheridan College enrollment numbers continue to rise.
Sheridan College Marketing and Public Information Director Wendy Smith said there is no way of proving these numbers are linked, but nearly a third of local high school students are staying in Sheridan for college.
Joe Mueller, executive director of admission services at Sheridan College, said in a previous interview with The Press that keeping in-county students local is a focus for Sheridan College.
In the 2014 school year, 237 Sheridan residents attended the UW campus, while in the 2013 school year 268 locals went to UW. That number is also down from the 2012 school year when 282 Sheridan residents went to UW.
Employees at the UW admissions office contacted 772 Sheridan County high school students in 2014, netting themselves less than a third of the students they talked with.
Sheridan College has seen an increase of 385 students during that same time period, although those are not all Sheridan residents.
Mueller said the success with local students is a result of building relationships.
“We do a monthly high school visit,” Mueller said. “We hold financial aid nights. We work closely with guidance counselors and our admissions counselor, and it seems to build that bond and that relationship with the student early to get them thinking about Sheridan and Gillette.”
Living at home to save on the cost of college certainly doesn’t hurt, Mueller said, but living on campus is also an affordable option if students want their own space.
While on-campus enrollment is changing at the two colleges, UW is enrolling some local students through online classes.
There were 93 Sheridan residents enrolled through the Outreach School in 2014, down from 98 in 2013. However, there were 92 students enrolled in that program in 2012.
Enrollment numbers for 2015 are currently being compiled, according to UW communications specialist Ron Podell.
Employees from the University of Wyoming did not comment on these numbers despite multiple phone calls. Additionally, UW representatives were unsure of who compiled the data that can be found on the website.