More than 10,000 students have applied to attend Western this fall, making it the highest count in university history.
Not only is this the most applications of all time, but it’s also the highest number of applications from students of color.
10,272 people applied for the fall of 2016, an increase of 619 applications from last year, said Clara Capron, assistant vice president of enrollment and student services.
The university received 101 more applications from freshman students of color, and 139 more from first generation students than last year, Capron said in an email.
Of the total applications, roughly 2,800 will be accepted. These enrollees are chosen by taking many criteria into consideration, one of which being their commitment to diversity, she said.
In 1980 only 388 of 10,616 students, or 3.6 percent, were of color, according to Western’s diversity statistics. When the count was taken this past fall, the number jumped to 3,799 of 15,332, or 24.8 percent.
Western retention rates have further balanced alongside diversity.
Freshman students of color were less likely to continue their education than white students in 2007, according to a study conducted by Western’s Office of Institutional Research.
“Retention Rates for Students of Color” shows that difference has now diminished.
The freshman retention rates for all students in 2014 was about 83 percent, according to the study.
The study was created to understand why some students dropped out. It revealed that freshmen living off-campus were six percent more likely to drop out than students living on-campus, and Washington state residents were six percent more likely to continue on.
In addition, race had no “statistically significant difference” on second-year retention rates, except for Asian students, who are more likely enroll in a second fall quarter than white students.
President Bruce Shepard referenced the study in a recent blog post about race and retention rates at Western.
“While I continually emphasize that there is a lot of progress yet to be made, these results offer [face value] evidence of progress in recent years and on the part of so many on matters of an inclusive and supportive climate,” Shepard wrote.
However, the percentage of students of color at Western still remains below other state universities.
At the University of Washington more than 50 percent of students are of color, at Eastern Washington University that number is 31 percent, at Central Washington University it’s 19 percent and at Evergreen State College’s Olympia campus it’s 24 percent, according to the latest diversity statistics from each respective university.
Thirty-one percent of Washingtonians identified with a race other than white in 2014, according to U.S. census data.