UArizona Welcomes Largest Incoming Class Ever

family moving into a dorm

Noah Owens, a first-year student from Vail, moves his belongings, with the help of family, into Gila Hall on Aug. 18. Owens is among more than 8,700 first-year students starting class this week.

Chris Richards/University of Arizona

With more than 8,700 incoming first-year students, the University of Arizona will welcome its largest first-year class in history when classes begin on Monday.

That number eclipses the previous record set by the university in 2015 of just over 8,000 first-year students. It's also an increase of more than 1,300 first-year students compared with last year.

The university will also welcome a very academically prepared first-year class, with an average high school GPA of 3.62, an average ACT score of 26 out of a possible 36, and an average SAT score of 1276 out of a possible 1600.

The newest class is also very diverse, with about 45% of incoming first-year students self-identifying with ethnicities other than white. About one-third of the students in the incoming class are the first in their families to attend college.

The university also saw a record number of first-year student applications this year, at nearly 48,000. Last year, even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university received more than 43,000 applications from first-year students

This year's total enrollment has surpassed 47,300 and will continue to grow as more students complete registration. All enrollment data is preliminary until the census next month.

Classes will begin in person capacity on Monday with face-mask guidelines requiring students and employees to cover their faces in indoor settings where adequate and continuous distancing is not possible. The university also has several other safety protocols in place to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on campus.

"I am so proud to welcome our largest class of first-year Wildcats to campus for a new year of learning and exploration. This year's incoming class demonstrates our strong commitment to being one of the most inclusive universities in the nation and world," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "Even as we work through the challenges that the pandemic poses, we look forward to offering students opportunities to continue pursuing their education and career goals."

The university has also enrolled over 2,400 transfer students and will continue to register students through the first week of classes. Transfer student applications also set a university record this year, with 8,000 applications.

Arizona Online's incoming fall enrollment is nearly 7,000 students, including about 900 transfer students. Online students can enroll year-round.

Numbers from this year's class suggest that the university's efforts to adapt amid the COVID-19 pandemic have paid off, said Kasey Urquídez, vice president for enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admissions.

"Because we had to jump into action to create all the virtual opportunities, we opened up some access so students who couldn't visit us were able to really see and find out if this was the place for them, even though they couldn't physically visit," she said.

The increases in overall first-year enrollment illustrate the commitment the university has made to recruitment efforts as part of its strategic plan, Urquídez said.

"When we started the strategic plan, we really invested across the country and the state," she said. "We started recruiting these students earlier, so they've been hearing from us since the end of their first year of high school. We've had much more reach and interaction with these students and have been recruiting them for years."