UW officials anticipate the largest class of new freshmen in 31 years when about 4,090 start classes on Sept. 30. The registrar’s office had to go back to 1965 to find a larger class, when 4,373 entered the University.
This spring and summer there have been many more happy families in Washington state, says Associate Admissions Director John Swiney. His office has been able to send out 528 more acceptance letters this year and about 200 to 300 fewer rejection letters.
“At the same time, the quality of our student body has been maintained,” Swiney adds. “The GPA and SAT scores for entering freshmen look very similar to last year’s averages, which were a 3.6 GPA and a 1058 SAT.”
The UW expects its total fall enrollment to be about 34,900, says Registrar W. W. “Tim” Washburn.
The UW has been able to increase access for both freshmen and transfer students due to additional enrollment money from Olympia. “We got about 400 extra undergraduate spots and about 100 extra transfer spaces,” Swiney says.
The state’s higher education system is feeling the first wave of the “baby boom echo”—a demographic bulge created when the original baby boomers started having children. At the UW, resident applications were up 7.5 percent over last year. A total of 7,761 residents applied for admission, and the UW made offers to 6,492 of them.
Non-resident students were not so fortunate. Out of 5,095 applications, only 2,295 got offers. When the Class of 2000 starts this month, about 3,477 will be residents and 613 non-residents.
Both UW Tacoma and UW Bothell are also anticipating record enrollments this fall. UW Tacoma is projecting 1,000 students and UW Bothell also anticipates 1,000 students.
The UW is also offering more evening degree programs this fall. Students who want to earn an M.B.A. or a master’s in library science in the evening have new opportunities, and a new master’s in computer science and engineering is coming.
While new money from the Legislature is key to increased enrollments, another factor is the strong graduation rate, says Washburn. About 9,200 students graduated in 1995-96, a record which opens up more room for transfer students and entering freshmen. The UW’s six-year graduation rate is 70 percent, the highest rate among all public institutions in the state.