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Bring it on: University of Montana students increase class loads


University of Montana enrollment is down compared to last year, but students are taking more class credits than before, and officials say that may increase the rate at which students graduate within four years of university entrance.

Enrollment stands at 13,858 students. That is 103 fewer than in the fall of 2006, when UM hit record enrollment of 13,961.

President George Dennison said that for the first time in the school’s history, more than 12,000 students are attending classes full time.

“This is really significant because it means more students are more likely to graduate on time within four years and that means more students will reduce the cost of their education because they are graduating on time,” Dennison said.

UM administrators and faculty have encouraged students to increase their class loads.

Studies find that those taking more credits have a greater chance of graduating than do students with lighter loads, Dennison said.

To help encourage heavier class schedules, the university restructured charges in a way that lets student boost their loads without adding expense.

Last fall, the number of students taking more than 12 credits, and therefore classified as full-time equivalents, numbered 11,716. This year, there are an additional 333 full-time equivalents.

State economists have predicted a downturn in the number of high school graduates over the next 15 years, a drop that eventually could affect the Montana university system. Dennison said he is unsure why the number of students enrolled this fall declined.

Studies have found that about 57 percent of Montana high school students choose to attend college.

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Information from: Missoulian,

–Associated Press

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