Becoming a Husky Becoming a Husky UW takes pride in a fair and rigorous admissions process

The University of Washington's admissions process is vetted and values-driven to produce a talented, diverse student body.

By Paul Seegert | Illustration by Anthony Russo | December 2019

While a college admissions scandal has been playing out across the country this fall, we here at the University of Washington have been pursuing our vetted and values-driven admissions process. The freshman class of 2020 will bring about 7,000 new Huskies to the Seattle campus alone.

This month, our students will be home for winter break, enjoying family and their communities. If the topic of the national scandal or questions about UW admissions should come up, we want to be sure you have the facts: We reviewed our admissions practices more than a decade ago to ensure that preparation and academic performance remain the primary criteria, while including a more in-depth review. We consider what students have accomplished outside of the classroom, as well as barriers they have had to overcome. We carefully read every application and personal statement. It takes more time to do this, but it is important because it allows us to emphasize potential and opportunity rather than privilege.

As the state’s flagship university, we make Washington residents our priority. They comprise two-thirds of the entering freshman class on our Seattle campus. Some of your friends may tell you that out-of-state students take spaces from Washington residents, but that’s not true. The UW is required to enroll at least 4,000 freshmen from Washington each year and, given state funding, we push to enroll as many more as we can. This year, we enrolled  more than 4,400 Washington students in Seattle. Out-of-state students, hailing from more than 80 states and countries, competed for the remaining 2,600 spots. And of the more than 500 first-year students at UW Tacoma and more than 800 at UW Bothell, over 90% are from Washington.

That’s not saying it’s easier to become a Husky these days. This is due, in part, to the quality and number of our applicants. We now receive more than 45,000 freshman applications for fall quarter. The UW also received about 6,000 transfer applications for some 1,200 spots.

Our candidates are impressive, which makes the selection of the class difficult. Fortunately, the UW’s admissions process is founded on values of which we can all be proud. We are not more selective for the sake of selectivity or to chase higher college rankings. Instead, the UW strives to enroll undergraduate classes rich in intellectual abilities, academic commitments, and diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and talents—all of which contribute to a stimulating educational environment.

The alignment of our admissions process with the University’s commitment to access and excellence is evident in the results. Over the past 10 years, our classes have grown ever more diverse and academically prepared. For example, 25% of our freshman class will be first-generation college students, 14% will be underrepresented minority students, and, for the middle 50%, the high school GPA is 3.70 to 3.95. Our newest University of Washington freshman students are amazing—they are talented and diverse, and they are sure to make Husky Nation proud.