Enrollment at WTAMU has continued to grow in the last two years as the campus continues to expand, adding more dormitories and more classrooms. In 2010, the enrollment for the fall semester was 7,843 students. By Fall 2012, that number had increased to 7,955 students. Just as a comparison, the population of Canyon is 14,600.
Aaron Oldham, a Music major at WT, said the short distance and familiarity for students in the Amarillo area are the reasons that it continues to grow.
“I think because it’s not as far away as other colleges are, you still see some people here that you saw in high school, you still have a lot of good teachers here, and they are not making you pay three times as much for the same education,” Oldham said.
Briana Moore, a Communication major, believes the expansions and growing diversity of WT are also adding to the continued growth the campus has seen.
“I would assume that a big thing is the fact that we are building new halls to support a bigger attendance of living on campus,” Moore said. “I think that we are getting a little more diverse, which is spreading our population as well because we are getting more known in more areas. The recruitment strategies have helped as well in getting a broader attendance from just many different areas.”
Some of the features that may be drawing students to come to WT are some of the programs that the University offers.
“The music program here is just a lot stronger, not in all the ways, like they still have good theory courses at [Amarillo College], but practically here is a lot better,” Oldham said. “Better orchestra, better theater, better a lot of things. That’s why some other people come here. They may have it at AC, but it’s not as well funded.”
Alyssa Duncan, an English major who also attended Stephen F. Austin State University, said the professors and material is overall better than other universities that she has been to.
“I like the professors more,” Duncan said. “I feel like the material I am learning is a lot more relevant and communicated in a better fashion than the other universities that I have been to. And they’re always having all these activities in our office that are very well advertised.”
Duncan also said she likes the capstone program that the English program has, an essay expansion in which building a relationship with your professor is pivotal in completing the program successfully.
“It involves a professor saying ‘hey, I will partner with you and make sure you get this done.’” Duncan said. “It is an extensive presentation [students] do.”
Both Duncan and Oldham said parking is a big deal for the students and is a drawback to WT, but Oldham said a more personalized degree program would also help WT grow in attendance.
“I know it’s hard to do a blanket degree plan that fits everyone,” Oldham said. “But I know a lot of people that are getting into business and education that aren’t getting exactly what they want, so they have to suck it up for four years here and then go to some other university to finish up their degree.”
Duncan also said that advisers need to be more communicative of when classes are offered, if they are offered exclusively in fall or spring, so students can graduate on time.
WT plans on adding more residence halls and is having even more buildings remodeled and upgraded. While Moore said she enjoys the residence halls expanding and being remodeled, the JBK expansion has been most impressive.
“I have really enjoyed the JBK expansion so far because of how many more opportunities and options there are for organizations on campus or departments to actually use that facility for their events or meetings,” Moore said.
Overall, one of the other things students may be attracted to is the “small college, big campus” feel.
“I feel like it does [have a small college feel] because you can’t turn a corner without seeing a group of people, but like I said it is still more of a small scale type of school, especially for the ones that live on campus,” Moore said.