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New and Improved: 2017 is UA's most accomplished class ever

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Ian Green | The Daily Wildcat

Students collaborate and study at the UA Main Library. This years freshman class was UA's most diverse ever. It also features the highest percentage of high achieving students in history.

A freshman class of roughly 7,500 students took its first college steps at the University of Arizona this fall semester, and among them lies the most diverse class in UA history.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Kasey Urquidez, explained the UA experienced a 3 percent jump in diversity. “Our enrollment and recruitment team works very hard to make sure we are bringing in a diverse class every year, since we want a demographic that represents the nation,” she said.

Julianna Haug, a freshman in the Honors College, said she applied "all over the country," because she didn't know where to go. “It mainly came down to the cost of each university and what they were offering me.” 

As a molecular and cellular biology major hailing from Kansas City, Haug's enrollment came down to dollars and cents. “I came to Arizona mainly for financial reasons and the scholarship I was offered, the National Merit Scholarship,” she said.

According to Kevin Hall, senior director for recruitment and marketing in the Honors College, the Honors College focuses mostly on Arizona residents since they make up about 80 percent of honors students.

“We did make a conscious effort to reach out to more schools with a higher percentage of students from undeserved populations,” Hall said. “We were in some schools we had really never visited before, for example, Cholla High School has an IB program, same with Nogales High School.”

RELATED: Nizhonabah Davis, freshman of distinction

In addition to diversity, the university also claims the 2017 freshman class to be the “highest achieving” in academics compared to previous years. 

“Our Arizona residents class has looked outstanding, we had a large number of students select U of A that had the highest qualifications we were looking at, which was a 3.5 GPA or higher and a 1300 or higher test score on the SAT,” said Urquidez. 

According to Urquidez, the number of students admitted to the university that fit into that high achieving category and above increased by 39 percent. And that's just Arizona residents. 

“We definitely want the best and brightest in Arizona,” Urquidez said. “Last year we implemented a new award called the Dean’s Distinction Award. It provided students that challenged themselves with a rigorous curriculum taking a large number of AP, IB or Honors courses with an additional scholarship award to help them out during their freshman year.” 

According to Urquidez, the scholarship was awarded to over 1000 students in the 2017 freshman class. 

“We did have an effort to increase the number of students who were selecting us with some additional scholarship dollars, because we believe it’s important to recognize them for their efforts in taking rigorous courses through high school and challenging themselves,” Urquidez said. “The Dean’s Distinction is an additional $1,000 on top of whatever awards they already received.” 

RELATED: UA engagement with new students brings most diverse class

On top of the new award in the scholarships list, the Honors College will also have a change in their application process.

“For fall of 2018, we are going to have a totally new application and admissions process for Honors,” Hall said. “In the past we’ve had our information that we need for Honors integrated into the UA application, starting for Fall ’18, students who are applying for freshman year right now, we have a separate application for Honors admission.” 

According to Hall, the Honors College will require more information aside from the one provided for admission into UA during the application process. 

“This includes additional essays, activity resumes ... there is a recommendations component added to it, so we will use that information to do our admissions,” Hall said.

With high school students around the country already searching potential college options, only time will tell if there will be even more outstanding academic classes in the UA's future.


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