More Arizona residents are opting to attend the University of Arizona, whose incoming class this fall also features diversity, high academic performance and an increase in international transfer students. The UA begins its new semester on Monday, Aug. 22.
Preliminary fall enrollment figures indicate that the UA will welcome more than 10,000 new students, which includes more than 8,000 new freshmen and more than 2,000 transfer students, not including students returning after a break in their education.
"An incoming class of over 10,000 new students is remarkable — that's bigger than many universities," said Kasey Urquidez, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Advancement and dean of Undergraduate Admissions.
While final enrollment numbers will not be available until the 21st day of the academic year, estimates already indicate notable increases for the incoming class:
Overall, 56 percent of freshmen are Arizona residents, up from 53 percent last year.
Underrepresented minority students constitute 42.6 percent of freshmen, up from 41.1 percent last year.
The overall grade-point average for first-time, full-time freshmen is 3.51, up from 3.38 last year, and the average SAT score is up six points from last year.
Among transfer students, 5.8 percent are international students, compared with 4.4 last year and 3 percent two years ago. In addition, 46.3 percent of transfers are from underrepresented minority groups, up from 45.4 last year. Enrollment among American Indian transfers is up 18 percent.
Nearly 70 percent of transfers are Arizona residents. Transfer enrollment among students from Central Arizona College is up 109 percent over last year and up 36 percent for students from Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
Urquidez said building a class is always a demanding exercise involving several campuswide partners, but she said she was impressed by this year's efforts.
"The team — including our counseling, recruiting and admissions processing staff, scholarships and financial aid, and all our campus partners — did everything possible to make personal connections to every single student enrolling," she said. "In the more than 20 years I have been in the enrollment field, I can honestly say this team worked harder than any team I have ever seen — and with such heart and dedication. Everyone's efforts were phenomenal, and I am so proud."
The UA also saw enrollment increases from several Arizona counties:
62 percent for Gila County, which includes the rural cities of Miami and Globe.
30 percent for Navajo County, which includes the Navajo Nation.
38 percent for Graham County.
12 percent for Coconino County, which includes Flagstaff.
7 percent for Santa Cruz County, which is along the U.S.-Mexico border.
3 percent for Maricopa County, which 45 percent of incoming resident freshmen call home.
"Being the first university in Arizona, we have a strong commitment to the state and in helping every student understand that they have an opportunity to be educated here as a freshman or transfer student," Urquidez said.
Regarding academic performance, first-time, full-time freshmen have average SAT and ACT scores of 1127 and 25.1, respectively, up from 1121 and 24.6 last year. The class also includes six Flinn Scholars, nine Flinn Finalists and 10 Baird Scholars, representing some of the highest-performing students in the state. And the UA Honors College has enrolled more than 1,100 new freshman students, whose average GPA is 3.86 and average SAT is 1334 (up two points over last year). More than 400 of the college's new students are transfers.
The enrollment team already has begun looking toward the 2017-2018 academic year.
The application process for fall 2017 is already open, and hundreds of prospective students already have applied, Urquidez said.
"Our goal is to continue to be the flagship university of the state, and to continue to increase our prominence," she said.
Urquidez noted the UA's commitment, under the 100% Engagement initiative, to providing every student with an applied experience that connects to their professional goals. The campus is home to hundreds of student clubs and organizations, including an active Greek community.
The UA is nationally ranked and internationally regarded for several of its academic programs — including those in business, nursing, education, management and information systems, and agriculture — and for its efforts over many years to invigorate undergraduate research and student entrepreneurship.
"Students know they are going to be ready to take on real-world challenges and be highly sought-after for the skills they attain at the UA," Urquidez said. "The UA offers students the full college experience. This is a place where you can do it all."