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This year marked a record number of students applying to Western for next year, with significant increases in applications from first-generation college students and students of color.

Western received 9,802 freshman applications for the 2,800 slots available for fall of 2015, more than 500 more applicants than the previous year, according to a Western press release. 

Number of potential students who applied to Western for the past four years. Data from The Seattle Times. // Illustration by Max Singler

Applications from first-generation college students and students of color have both increased by 12 percent. There has also been a 12 percent increase in applications from high-achieving students of all backgrounds who have been admitted with high honors or distinction, said Clara Capron, assistant vice president of Enrollment and Student Services, in an email.

“We are pleased with the fact our campus is becoming increasingly diverse,” Capron said.

Incoming freshmen in the next few years might find admission to Western increasingly competitive, Capron said. However, despite the increase in applications, the freshman class will remain at a capacity of 2,800 students.

Western is not the only Washington state school that has seen an increase in applicants, Capron said.

Washington State University, The Evergreen State College, Eastern and Central Washington universities and the University of Washington all received a record-breaking number of freshman applicants this year.

UW received a 16 percent increase in freshman applicants this year, 12 percent of that number being Washington residents, according to the University of Washington News and Information.

President Bruce Shepard talked about the need for diversity in a message he wrote to the public on Western’s diversity webpage.

“Diversity makes us stronger,” Shepard said. “Open acceptance of differing viewpoints and perspectives is integral to higher education and is at the center of learning and knowledge.”

Freshman Rahwa Hailemariam said the increase in applicants is definitely a good thing.

“I feel like Western is growing and people are starting to see it’s a great school,” Hailemariam said.

Western was ranked number one by U.S. News and World Report as the highest-ranking public, master’s-grant university in the Pacific Northwest, Capron said.


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