UGA classes begin with likely record enrollment

A record freshman class with record academic qualifications, culled out of a record number of applications, is likely to push University of Georgia enrollment to another record high as UGA fall semester classes started Monday.

 

The class of 2021 could also set a record for diversity, according to numbers the university recently released.

The 5,800-student first-year class posted an average 4.0 high school grade point average and scored an average 30 - the 95th percentile - on the ACT, according to UGA’s announcement. Four years ago, the freshman class’ high school GPA was 3.86, and the average ACT was 29 on the test’s 36-point scale.

The average score on the new SAT for this year’s freshmen was 1344.

Last year’s freshman class was 5,234 students, according to University System of Georgia data. That big class helped push UGA enrollment up to a record 36,574.

The number of students who leave school before finishing their degrees has decreased in recent years, which has also pushed enrollment up.

Of those more than 5,800 first-year students, nearly 1,900 self-identify as non-white, about 30 percent, according to a UGA news release. Of those, 469 said they were African-American; about 8 percent of the class and up 20 percent from the count in 2013’s 5,150-person first-year class.

At 395, the number of Hispanic or Latino freshman students is up 33 percent from four years earlier.

At UGA overall, including graduate students as well as undergraduates, African Americans accounted for 8.3 percent of all students in fall 2016, up from 6.6 percent in fall 2006, according to University System of Georgia reports. Asian students, a catch-all kind of category that includes students of Indian descent as well as Chinese and other ethnicities, increased from 5.5 percent to 10.1 percent in that same time period, while Hispanic representation increased from 2 percent to 5 percent in that period. The percentage of white students decreased from 83.4 percent to 68.4 percent.

The number of high school students applying for admission has been on the rise for years, and this year reached nearly 24,500, up about 20 percent from four years ago.

UGA’s admissions office has historically admitted about 50 percent of those who apply, and about half those accepted enroll, though those numbers sometimes change significantly from year to year.

The big freshman class contributed to an on-campus housing crunch this fall. Most freshmen are required to live in UGA residence halls this year, but one of UGA’s main freshman dormitory buildings, Russell Hall, is closed for renovations, taking nearly 1,000 beds away from UGA’s housing stock.

UGA officials offered $3,500 to upperclassmen who signed housing contracts to back out, and 120 took them up on the offer. That equals about $420,000 the university spent to gain back some housing space.

Besides them, 130 students got a 70 percent discount on their housing fees by agreeing to move to Brown Hall, a converted hotel building on UGA’s Health Sciences Campus in Normaltown.

The new UGA students hail from 44 states and 15 countries, but 87 percent come from Georgia. Metro Atlanta accounts for most UGA freshmen, but more than 90 percent of Georgia’s 159 counties will have representation in the first-year class.

Other new UGA students include nearly 1,600 transfer students from more than 300 colleges and universities.

Follow Lee Shearer at www.facebook.com/LeeShearerABH or https://twitter.com/LeeShearer.

 

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