Purple Passion: Freshman Applications at All-Time High Print
A record number of high school seniors applied to become UW freshmen this fall in Seattle, and for 62 percent they got the happy news in the mail that they could be Huskies.

With 17,730 applications—almost 2,000 more than last year—the UW is following a national trend that is seeing application records being broken at top-ranked schools such as Harvard, Stanford and Columbia.

However, the difference in acceptance rates between elite private schools and the UW is astonishing. Harvard invited only 9 percent of its applicants to come and Stanford only 10.3 percent. In contrast, the UW accepted nearly two-thirds of all resident applicants—65.4 percent—and more than half of the non-residents—58.4 percent.

For the 2,500 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S., the average acceptance rate is 70 percent, a number that has held steady since the 1980s.

When its doors open in the fall, the UW expects about 5,300 new freshmen in Seattle, slightly lower than the record 5,438 who came last year. Freshman applications are up at both regional campuses too, and for the fall Tacoma expects 250 new freshmen and Bothell is counting on 175.

Director of Admissions Philip Ballinger sees several reasons for the surge in new students. The pool of high school seniors in the state is growing due to a “baby boom echo,” and won’t peak until 2010. As a response to this pressure, the new state budget adds enrollment slots to all three UW campuses as well as other public colleges and universities (see “State Budget,” page 13).
More students want to come because the UW has invested more in recruiting, particularly low-income and under-represented groups, he adds. And the academic excellence of the UW continues to draw national and international applicants.

It is not clear yet if the new Husky Promise program has also had an effect on applications, though Ballinger thinks it might. Husky Promise guarantees payment of all tuition and fees for resident students at or under 70 percent of the state median income. For a family of four in Washington, that means an annual income of $46,500.

UW officials estimate that about 5,000 students will be covered—about 20 percent of the entire undergraduate population. The Students First fund-raising initiative will supplement financial aid based on public funds and tuition; together these three sources should cover the additional cost.

The students admitted for the fall have some of the highest academic scores Ballinger has ever seen. They have an average 3.74 high school g.p.a. and, for the first two parts of the SAT exam, an average 1251 score.

In addition to these new freshmen, the Seattle campus will admit about 2,000 new transfer students this year from the state community college system. “It’s the best time in a long time to transfer to the University of Washington’s three campuses,” says Ballinger. At the Seattle campus, about 80 percent of community college transfers are accepted.

The Seattle campus sets aside 30 percent of all new student openings for community college transfers—a fact that is often lost on these potential students, Ballinger complains. “Our message is, if your are a student that is going well and ready to move on, now is a great time to apply.”