A class act

In addition to being the first class at the University of Georgia to benefit fully from the university’s experiential learning initiative, the more than 5,400 students who will begin classes next week are the institution’s most academically gifted to date.

The average high school grade point average of first-year students at the nation’s first state-chartered university is 3.98, which greatly exceeds last year’s average of 3.91. In addition, the average SAT score for the incoming class reached a new high of 1302 this year. The average score for students who took the ACT was 29, which ties last year’s record. In 2011, for comparison, the average SAT score for incoming students was 1226, and the average ACT score was 28.

The rigor of students’ high school curriculum remains a key factor in admissions decisions, and members of the Class of 2020 enrolled in an average of seven College Board Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses in high school.

Nearly 23,000 students applied for admission into the Class of 2020, an increase of 3 percent over the previous year. UGA attempted to meet this unprecedented demand through a measured increase in the size of the freshman class, which was nearly 5,300 last year. UGA’s acceptance rate for fall 2016 was 53 percent, compared to 63 percent in 2011.

“I am excited about the outstanding qualifications and broad diversity of backgrounds represented in this year’s incoming class,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Through strategic investments in faculty, facilities and new academic initiatives, we are creating an unparalleled learning environment and, in turn, attracting the very best and brightest students to the University of Georgia.”

With the implementation of its new experiential learning requirement this fall, UGA has become the nation’s largest public university to ensure that each of its students benefits from hands-on learning opportunities such as internships, research, study abroad and service-learning. A small class size initiative has brought more than 50 new faculty members to campus this fall and created more than 300 new course sections, the majority of which have fewer than 20 students.

“The Class of 2020 includes the very best and brightest of this generation,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “Our top priority is to provide them with unrivaled learning opportunities to best prepare them for successful and fulfilling careers.”

Eighty-five percent of Georgia counties will be represented in the incoming class, and students from nearly all of Georgia’s 159 counties are enrolled at UGA. In-state enrollment in the Class of 2020 is 87 percent, a figure that has remained relatively stable over the past decade. The top states from which out-of-state students hail are North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida and California. The 89 international students in the Class of 2020 come from 52 countries, and the top countries from which they hail are China, Korea and India. The more than 5,400 incoming first-year students will be joined by more than 1,500 transfer students from more than 240 institutions.

The number of incoming students who self-identify as non-white has increased by 10 percent over the past year to exceed 1,730. More than 460 members of the incoming class self-identify as African-American, an increase of 10 percent over the past year. The number of Hispanic students in the incoming class increased by 8 percent over last year.

UGA’s nationally recognized Honors Program will enroll 525 new students this fall, and they bring an average high school GPA of 4.16 that reflects their rigorous Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate curriculum. Incoming Honors students have an average combined critical reading and math SAT score of 1487 and an average ACT score of 33.

“This is an unprecedented class in terms of diversity and scholastic achievement,” said Patrick Winter, associate vice president for admissions and enrollment management. “Their academic rigor is well-rounded with leadership, community and artistic accomplishments, holding promise of great success. I am looking forward to welcoming them to campus and seeing what they can accomplish through the exciting new opportunities that UGA has to offer this fall.”