The University of Arizona will have another record-setting year with the greatest number of incoming freshmen, the highest overall enrollment and greater student diversity, preliminary figures indicate.
New enrollment data shows that the UA will welcome more than 10,000 freshman, transfer and returning undergraduate students – with more than 7,800 of those being incoming freshmen – when classes begin Monday. For fall 2013, there were about 9,600 new students, of which nearly 7,200 were new freshmen.
Also, a projected 41.4 percent of new freshmen are ethnically or racially diverse. Last year, that number was 41.3 percent, marking the first time it had surpassed 40 percent.
"We are going against the national trend; our enrollment is increasing during a time that the number of high school graduates has just begun to rebound from one of the lowest points in many years," said Kasey Urquidez, the UA's associate vice president and dean of admissions.
The preliminary enrollment figures also indicate strong academic quality among students. The estimated freshman SAT is 1114 with an average 3.4 high school grade-point average. The Honors College is expecting about 1,300 incoming freshman and transfer students. Their average freshman SAT is 1353 with an average high school GPA of 3.85, both increases over last year.
Data also indicates that students are primarily choosing studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as the STEM fields.
Alex Urzua, an transfer student from Maricopa Community Colleges who already has an eye on medical school, said he chose the UA because of its physiology program.
"I felt that the UA would be a good place to network with faculty and doctors associated with the medical school here," Urzua said. "I have heard excellent things about the UA's academics and I feel the University will provide me with sufficient knowledge to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor."
The UA received more than 33,600 applications this year from prospective freshman students alone. Generally, that figures caps out at about 26,000, Urquidez said.
"We had an incredible response from prospective students from day one," Urquidez said. Final enrollment calculations are not solidified until the official 21st day of the academic year, at which point figures are reported to the Arizona Board of Regents. "Even so, this is the most freshman applications we have ever had."
Other points on the incoming class, based on preliminary data:
- The total student enrollment, including undergraduate and graduate students, is projected to be 41,800. The total enrollment on the 21st day last fall was 40,621.
- About 57 percent of incoming freshmen are Arizona residents.
- The total number of UA students who will be living on campus in residence halls is 7,200.
- Applications from Arizona residents were up 20 percent this year, with 7 percent more students enrolling over last year. The top five states for non-Arizona residents are California, Illinois, Washington, Colorado and Texas.
- More than 2,000 transfer students are expected.
- The top five declared majors, in order, are: pre-business, pre-physiology, psychology, biology and pre-pharmacy – most of which fall into the STEM fields.
- Nearly 400 former students have re-enrolled to pursue an undergraduate degree.
- About 450 international students will be part of the freshman and transfer classes.
New Jersey twin sisters Corby and Kyler Williams, both incoming freshmen currently deciding on majors, chose the UA because of its reputation, size and school spirit, as well as the local weather.
Both considered institutions across the nation, but it was their high school guidance counselor who pointed them to the UA.
One campus visit sealed the decision for the Williams sisters. Also, their mother gave them encouragement, having moved from back East to Colorado for her college studies.
"We wanted to also go far away so that we could meet new people," said Corby Williams, who is rushing for a sorority. "We came to visit and loved it immediately. There was a good vibe from everyone we met and we felt at home here."
Tristen Vaughn, a Flinn Scholar from Phoenix, also was grew fond of the University because of its welcoming environment, she said.
"Out of all the other schools I visited, it was the only one where I felt comfortable," said Vaughn, who is studying neuroscience, cognitive science and mathematics, and who has already connected with three mentors.
"The friendly and engaging atmosphere caught and kept my attention. I am confident that I have a beautiful support system in place. Such a system has assured me, even in the early stages of starting college, that I can be successful once I graduate," she said.
Vaughn also took interest in the more rigorous Honors College curriculum. "I thought it it would be a challenge to graduate with honors. I made a promise to myself to go above and beyond whenever possible."
Urquidez said many students committed to the UA early for a number of reasons. For example, last fall the UA launched the Wildcat Promise, an initiative to inform applicants if they have gained admission into the University shortly after they apply.
"We've started working earlier with prospective students to give them the information about what the University offers," she said. "A lot of schools might see an increase in applications, but not an increase in the number of students who complete the application and enroll. For us, the numbers were up across the board. We are very proud of this class."
The fall class also is the first to be able to take advantage of the recently implementedGuaranteed Tuition Program, allowing students and families to predict college costs and providing an extra incentive to graduate on time. The UA program provides students with a constant tuition rate for eight continuous fall and spring semesters.
Also, the UA's more intentional recruitment focus resulted in substantial growth from a number of U.S. states as well as other countries.
"We analyzed past classes and focused more of our efforts on growing specific markets," said Mary Venezia, the UA's assistant director of enrollment initiatives.
In the U.S., the UA saw sizable growth among students from states that include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Nebraska, Illinois, Massachusetts and Nevada. Among international students, the UA drew from a number of countries that saw little or no enrollment last year: Bolivia, Colombia, Finland and Indonesia. The UA also saw notable increases among students from countries such as India, Japan, Norway and the Philippines.
"We have traveled to and recruited in many more countries over the last few years and we are now seeing students coming from some of those new areas," Urquidez said.
"We are really dedicated to continuing to diversify the student body, and that includes international students," she added. "We want to ensure that our students have a greater chance to interact with others from around the world and prepare them to compete and cooperate in a global society."