Amid pandemic, UW still sees increase in admissions applications

If you thought college applications would be down during the pandemic, that is not the case at the University of Washington.

It’s hard to tell the high demand when you go on campus because the majority of students are still learning remotely and campus tours are not happening. But college applications show that thousands of more students are vying for a seat at UW and that trend is surprising admissions officials.

Almost a year into her freshmen year, Stefania Marinescu said she still doesn’t know what it feels like to have the traditional college experience.

"All I know is from the movies and stuff I’ve never experienced it and I don’t know when I will get to," Marinescu said.

RELATED: Washington State University to require COVID vaccinations for students, employees

She knows her classmates voices but not their faces.

"I’m unfortunately one of those people who doesn’t turn the camera on especially for early morning classes," Marinescu said.

Malachi Espinola is also a freshman who said he can’t wait for in-person learning.

"I’ve never been in any of these buildings and I’ve lived here a year," Espinola said.

But amid the unusual college experience, data shows that demand for admission is up at UW. For the application process in 2020 before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, UW received 43,781 applications. In 2021, that number jumping to 48,800 applications for the upcoming freshmen class. 

"I definitely was surprised to see an increase in applications this year," Director of Admissions Paul Seegert said.

So what’s driving it?

"I guess once they throw away the SAT score if you have a story you have a chance," Marinescu said.

RELATED: Washington state facing shutdowns, Phase rollbacks as coronavirus cases rise

Marinescu and Espinola are among the last class of students who were required to submit SAT scores.

"My SAT score was 1480 I took it once," Espinola said.

The upcoming freshman class, the latest applicants, did not have to show SAT scores. Students say that could be one reason why more students may be applying. 

"Although college applications are down nationally, students seem to be applying to universities like University of Washington, that’s more well known," Seegert said.

Seegert said SAT scores were never a huge part of the admission process. Now that it’s no longer a requirement, admissions officials are focusing heavily on things like what type of courses a student is taking along with grades and other activities.

UW says this fall they hope to hold classes largely in-person and plan on resuming on-campus tours in June.

 "I just wish I had more of a relationship with people academically," Espinola said.

The university expects to welcome around 7,000 freshmen this fall out of the 48,800 applicants.

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