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UW enrolls record-breaking freshman class

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All UW data from Office of Enrollment Information Services

This year, the UW welcomed 7,249 new freshmen, an increase from last year’s 7,002, and a record number of 1,438 new underrepresented minority undergraduate students. 

The large freshman population was a pleasant surprise for director of admissions Paul Seegert, who anticipated fewer accepted admission offers due to COVID-19-related uncertainty. 

“For the freshmen, we were not planning on having such a large class,” Seegert said. “We were aiming to have a class that was more similar in size to the last three years.” 

The admission team calls the group of students that decline admission offers the “melt.”

“It’s difficult to predict what students are going to do during a pandemic,” Seegert said. “Last year, over the summer … our enrollment melted away at a pretty high rate. So students, after they accepted, declined at a pretty high rate due to the pandemic.” 

Because the melt was predicted in spring 2021, the number of students declining admission this year was overestimated, largely due to uncertainty the pandemic brings. 

“The students actually didn’t melt at as high of a rate as we expected they would, so we ended up with more students,” Seegert said.

Seegert emphasized the record number of underrepresented minority (URM) students in the Class of 2025, and attributed that to the efforts of the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity.

“They have done a great, great job of being accessible and reaching out to students and maintaining their programs even in the face of the pandemic, you know, moving everything online and staying in touch with students,” Seegert said.

1,120 of the members of the freshman class, or 15.5%, are URMs, according to the data Seegert provided. Last year, 1,087 members of the freshman class were URMs, still 15.5% of that class. 

As Seegert predicted before Census Day, the university experienced a drop from autumn 2020’s 1,030 international students enrolled to 895 in autumn 2021’s freshman class. However, there was a rise in out-of-state residents, with 1,834 in the autumn 2021 freshman class compared to autumn 2020’s 1,544. 

“We were able to make up for the drop in international applications and subsequent enrollment of international students with U.S. enrollment,” Seegert said. “Top states [that U.S. nonresidents come from] would be California, then Oregon, and Hawai’i, then Illinois.”

Seegert said the freshman class surpassed the admissions team’s expectations, though not all universities had the same experience this year. 

“The University of Washington fared very well,” Seegert said. “We have a healthy class. We filled the class, we have a record class, and the class is a little bit more diverse, which is really amazing to have those outcomes in the face of the pandemic.” 

Reach reporter Lacey Robertson at Twitter: @laceynicolerob 

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(2) comments


Love it. Very well written and interesting. Go Dawgs! [innocent]


And yet, there was a symptomatic student on the very first day in a full 250-person physics hall that had no capability to even socially distance.

Just more cynical UW bad decision making that the local community colleges are all doing better at.

As a medic with a decade of experience, this school has made my skin crawl.

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