More Minority Students Part Of UW’s Spike In Enrollment

Nick Perry, Seattle Times, October 10, 2006

Dorms and classrooms at the University of Washington are packed like never before: Official figures released Monday show enrollment has reached an all-time high.

The fall freshman class also includes the highest percentage of minority students since at least 1998, the year Initiative 200 made it illegal to use race as an admissions factor.

The freshman class at the Seattle campus is 5,438, and overall enrollment is 39,524; both are record numbers. An additional 4,000 or so students study at the branch campuses in Bothell and Tacoma.

The university moved to a “holistic” admissions system this year under which officials use grades and test scores but also read each application to come up with a more complete understanding of each student. Officials also began systematically revoking admission from high-schoolers who slacked off during their senior year.

Several hundred more freshmen decided to come this fall than were expected, something officials say might be due to more earnest students applying under the new admissions system.

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This year’s freshman class is 54 percent white; 28 percent Asian American; 5.6 percent Hispanic; 2.8 percent African American; 2.4 percent International; 1.3 percent American Indian; and 0.7 percent Pacific Islander. About 5 percent of students did not indicate their ethnicity.

The percentage of Hispanic freshmen is higher than in any recent year going back to 1998. And the number of African-American freshmen rose from 118 last year—the lowest since 1999—to 154 this year.

Enrollment at the UW has increased slowly in the past 40 years—in 1968 it was at about 32,000.

“We’re not funded for substantially increased enrollment, and we can’t surge ahead to meet all demand,” said Todd Mildon, the UW Registrar. The result, he said, is an increasingly competitive admissions process.

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