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Admissions see a rise in minority applicants

Minority Applicants

Minority Applicants Photo by Lauren Smith

More minority students are applying to the UW, recent admissions statistics reveal.

This past fall, the freshman applicant pool totaled 30,073 students, with multiple underrepresented ethnic minority applicants applying in higher percentages than in past years. Among those that increased, African-American applicants rose more than 7 percent, Native Americans rose nearly 30 percent, and Pacific Islander students were up by more than 30 percent, said Philip Ballinger, director of admissions. The applicant pool as a whole increased 15.7 percent from Fall 2012.

Ballinger said the implications of these increases are still unclear considering that the numbers are only in the applications, and the admissions office have not yet released admissions decisions. But he said the future looks promising.

“If you see these kinds of increases in your applicant pool — all else being equal — you’re going to probably see increases in your enrolled class, and so we’re very pleased with the applicant pool this year,” he said.

Initiative 200, legislation from 1998, prevents public institutions including the UW from using gender and ethnicity preferences when reviewing applicants. However, the UW is allowed to build a pool of diverse students, based on other factors including achievements, leadership, and academic capabilities without regard to race or gender.

The increasing numbers of underrepresented minority groups are not a surprise, said Enrique Morales, associate vice president of access, policy, and planning for the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity (OMA&D).

“Statistically, the proportion of the students of color in the state who are high school graduates are growing while the non-minority population is declining,” Morales said. “So it makes sense that our applicant pool had a corresponding increase as well.”

The most recent report released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) showed increased nationwide graduation rates for every ethnicity in the United States, Asian and Pacific Islander students having the highest with an increased rate of 93.5 percent. The report also showed that between 2001 and 2010, the nationwide immediate college enrollment rate increased from 62 percent to 70 percent.

Sheila Edwards Lange, vice president for minority affairs and vice provost for diversity, said the increase in underrepresented minority groups in the applicant pool are not only due to the changing demographics in the state, but also the abundance of programs and activities around the state that are focused on broadening access to college for students. Such projects include community-based programs like the Dream Project, College Access Now, and also outreach programs from the OMA&D.

After freshmen admissions decisions are released in March, there will be a number of outreach programs to attract both students and their families to commit to the UW. Such programs include the recruitment and outreach program called the Purple and Gold Experience, Spring Preview Days for admitted students, and calling campaigns from UW alumni.

“The biggest priority is letting students know that we really want them to come to the University of Washington, and that they will all get a world-class education here,” Lange said.

“For some time now the university has been attracting really strong applicants and this year that’s particularly true,” Ballinger said. “For the most part the students who have applied are strong, they’re impressive, and in some cases they’re so impressive that we joke around here, that a new species of humans are arising.”

Reach reporter Imana Gunawan at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @imanafg

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