New UW-Madison chancellor visits Milwaukee amid biggest application wave ever

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- UW-Madison's new chancellor visited Milwaukee Wednesday, Aug. 10 to meet with dozens of new and returning students at 3rd Street Market Hall.

Students who graduated high school during the pandemic say college could be the first time they have in-person instruction all year since the 2018-2019 school year.

UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin has been on the job six days as of Wednesday. She says with more applications than ever before, they're looking forward to the school year.

"As the new chancellor, part of my job will be to listen and learn and to figure out how we can do even better," said Mnookin.

Enrollment officials say they have more applicants this year than ever before, signaling that hesitation over COVID-19 precautions isn't as bad as it once was.

"Our enrollment stayed pretty strong. But we are able now to have the full immersive experience that really is how we think our students learn best," said Mnookin.

"I'm nervous, but more excited than anything. Especially it's the first time being face-to-face again," said incoming freshmen like Melany Romero. "Thousands of people? It's going to be new, a new experience for sure, but I'll try to navigate through it."

Other incoming freshmen, like Elaine Santiago-Soto, say if lockdowns were still in effect they might've waited.

"Probably I would've took a gap year or something because looking at a screen constantly, it takes a mental toll on you," said Santiago-Soto.

Mnookin says the school is ready to respond if the situation changes, something students say they're happy about.

"We have additional tools in the toolbox now, but one of the things we have learned in the pandemic is never to make predictions about what's around the next corner," said Mnookin.

UW-Madison officials say they'll have final numbers for this year's enrollment 10 days after school starts.

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