Freshman entry standards set record; 35,108 attend UW

The smartest freshman class in the history of the University of Washington walked through classroom doors Sept. 28 as 35,108 students started the 1998-99 school year.

The 4,219 new freshmen had an average high school GPA of 3.65 and an average SAT score of 1155. “It’s the most selective class we’ve ever had,” says Registrar W.W. “Tim” Washburn.

Last year’s new freshmen had a 3.6 GPA and 1148 average SAT score. Washburn says there are two main reasons for the jump: the UW had more applications than ever before—13,330—but had fewer spaces than last year’s 4,500 slots.

As for this year’s high school seniors, they can expect the same standards or higher. “We’re out visiting schools already and telling high school counselors to expect competition equal to or greater than this next year,” Washburn warns.

As part of its 1999-2001 budget request, the UW is asking for an additional 1,600 full-time students at its three campuses. If the Legislature turns down more enrollments, Washburn says it would almost guarantee higher admission standards.

The registrar says these numbers confirm what higher education officials have been warning would happen—children of the “baby boom” generation are now seeking a college education.

This year’s total enrollment at the Seattle campus is not a record. There were 37,549 students in 1979. However, both the Tacoma and the Bothell campuses reached record enrollments. UWB has 1,213 students compared to 1,092 last fall and UWT has 1,335 students this year, a big jump from last year’s 1,128.

Washburn reports only subtle changes in the mix of students attending the Seattle campus this fall. There are 25,273 undergraduates, 8,116 graduate students, and 1,719 professional students. The ethnic breakdown is also stable, with 18.9 percent Asian American, 2.8 percent African American, 3.8 percent Hispanic and 1.4 percent Native American. Undergraduate tuition for residents is $3,366; for non-residents it is $10,656.