Record number of freshmen arrive; diversity numbers encouraging

The entering class this fall is one for the record books, say UW officials, as 4,983 new freshmen broke previous enrollment levels and set academic highs as well, with an average 3.64 high school G.P.A. and an average SAT score of 1162.

The Class of 2005 also included more students from underrepresented ethnic groups, an encouraging trend, administrators say.

Overall, the total Seattle enrollment is 36,139 students, including 25,987 undergraduates and 10,152 graduate and professional students. This is below the record of 37,547 set in 1979.

Because of the baby boom echo, there is a demographic bulge in high school-age students now beginning to show up at state colleges. To prepare for this boom, the Legislature authorized an increase in undergraduate enrollments at the UW and other institutions. The UW enrolled 468 more freshmen this year, a 10 percent jump over 1999.

Within that class are a growing number of students from underrepresented ethnic groups. The ethnic breakout compared to 1999 is: African Americans up 47 percent; American Indians up 22 percent; Hispanic/Latinos down 6 percent; Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders up 118 percent; Asian Americans up 15 percent and Caucasians up 13 percent.

Director of Admissions W.W. “Tim” Washburn says UW outreach and recruitment efforts help encourage a more ethnically diverse student body. After Initiative 200 dismantled affirmative action programs at all state agencies, the UW saw a decline in students from underrepresented groups applying and enrolling at the UW.

“Certainly these gains are modest. No one wants to claim that there is a major turnaround, but there has been some improvement,” Washburn says. In 1998, before the passage of I-200, about 9.7 percent of the freshman class came from underrepresented groups. This year it is 6.4 percent.

Washburn is particularly concerned about the drop in Hispanic/Latino students and noted that the UW has recently hired a high school counselor to recruit students in the Yakima Valley area.

Meanwhile, the record number of freshmen put tremendous pressure on the UW residence halls. The UW converted about 200 rooms from doubles to triples to meet the demand, and all students who paid their deposit by the May 1 deadline were able to live in a dorm. Washburn reported that rather than being unpopular, freshmen liked the triples and when offered a chance to move into a double instead, not one group wanted to beak up their threesome.

Enrollments at the Bothell and Tacoma campuses total 3,111, with 1,689 students enrolled at Tacoma and 1,422 enrolled at Bothell. The campuses enroll upper-division undergraduate and graduate students.

Women account for more than half of the students at both campuses, with 70 percent at Tacoma and 58 percent at Bothell. Women at the Seattle campus make up about 52 percent of the total enrollment.

Washburn warns that the UW expects only modest increases for new freshmen the next two years, and that students planning to attend the UW should apply early and get their deposits in on time. “We turned away students after the May 1 deadline this year and we anticipate doing it again for 2001,” he says.