Washington grads improve their college chances

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Updated: March 13, 2014, 10:58 AM

 

SEATTLE — This year’s high school graduates have a slightly better chance of getting into Washington’s public colleges and universities, thanks to a fluke of demographics.

The class of 2014 is at the bottom of a population dip. That means they have a little less competition for college admission, The Seattle Times reported.

The number of high school seniors graduating in Washington — and around the nation — is at its lowest point in years.

The Western Interstate Commission for High Education, which tracks demographic trends, reports about 5,000 fewer students are expected to get a diploma in Washington than did in 2010.

This year, nearly 69 percent of in-state freshman applicants to the University of Washington will get an acceptance letter in the mail this month. In 2013 and 2012, between 63 and 65 percent of in-state applicants were admitted.

“The chances of getting in this year happen to be better than in recent years,” said UW spokesman Norm Arkans. But he underscored that getting into the UW still requires top grades, high college entrance-exam scores and a résumé of high school achievements.

About 7,100 in-state high school seniors will be admitted to the UW, and about 4,300 are projected to eventually enroll for fall quarter. That’s about 7 percent of the nearly 62,000 Washington high school seniors expected to earn a diploma at the end of this academic year.

The UW-Tacoma, UW-Bothell, Washington State University and a number of other state schools have rolling-admissions policies, and are continuing to accept applications for fall.

The state’s public university with the largest increase in applicants was WSU, which has received about 27 percent more applicants than it did the same time last year.

WSU officials think it’s because the university has a larger and more experienced staff of recruiters. The school also dropped the requirement for students to write an essay to gain admission and SAT and ACT scores are now optional.

“It’s not easier to get in — we just put a lot of emphasis on grades,” said John Fraire, vice president for student affairs and enrollment. “It’s a better predictor of success.”

WSU predicts a freshman class of up to 4,100 this year, which would rank among its largest classes ever. The UW also expects to have its largest freshman class — about 6,400 students this fall.

Washington’s regional universities — Western, Central and Eastern — saw application numbers stay about the same or fall slightly, and most are expecting to enroll about the same number of freshmen this year as last year. The Evergreen State College is expecting a drop in freshman enrollment.

“We’re all competing for many of the same students this year,” Clara Capron, assistant vice president for enrollment and student services at Western Washington University, wrote in an email.