Throughout the myriad challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the more than 5,800 incoming students who comprise the University of Georgia’s Class of 2025 have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to academic excellence, leadership and engagement.
They bring record-setting academic credentials to the birthplace of public higher education in America, with an average high school GPA above 4.0 and an average of 10 courses in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or dual-enrollment.
“The University of Georgia is pleased to welcome such an impressive class of students to our campus,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “They have demonstrated tremendous fortitude and academic ability already, and I am excited to see all they will achieve over the next four years.”
The incoming first-year students were selected from the largest applicant pool in the university’s history. More than 39,000 promising high school students applied for admission to UGA this year. (For a story that includes perspectives from incoming students, click here).
In response to challenges associated with the scheduling of SAT and ACT testing during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, UGA made standardized test score submission optional for the fall 2021 application process. (SAT/ACT scores are once again required for first-year and dual-enrollment applicants.) The approximately 60% of enrolling students who opted to have SAT results used in their decision had an average composite super score of 1391, which greatly exceeds the average of 1325 for incoming students in 2020. The average ACT score for 2021 was a record 32, up from 31 in the previous year.
The rigor of students’ high school coursework relative to what is available at their school remains a key factor in admissions decisions at UGA. For five consecutive years, incoming UGA students have had an average weighted high school GPA above 4.0.
“The Class of 2025 has experienced so many setbacks during this past year, yet these students have persisted, worked hard and become one of most successful incoming classes at UGA,” said Barkley Barton II, director of undergraduate admissions. “It is amazing to see a class that is intelligent, creative, resilient and tremendously diverse. The entire Class of 2025 is poised to become society’s next leaders and entrepreneurs and to have a positive impact on the UGA community and the global society.”
Diverse incoming class
Although final demographic data won’t be available until after the semester begins, preliminary data show that 33% of incoming students self-identify as a member of a minority group, up from 31% last year. Eight percent of first-year students are the first in their families to attend college, up from 6% last year. The incoming class includes students from 474 Georgia high schools, 142 Georgia counties, 44 states and 5 continents. Georgia residents comprise 81% of the incoming undergraduate students.
More than 1,700 transfer students also are beginning their studies at UGA, and they are supported by resources such as the Transfer Student Experience Success Pathway.
At the graduate level, approximately 2,500 students representing 47 states and 111 countries are beginning their studies this fall at UGA. They are joined by nearly 500 incoming professional students in law, veterinary medicine and pharmacy. In addition, the Augusta University/UGA Medical Partnership recently welcomed its largest class: 60 first-year medical students.
UGA has garnered national recognition for being one of the largest public universities to ensure that all of its students engage in experiential learning activities such as internships, research and service-learning prior to graduation. An Innovation District Initiative is creating new opportunities for engagement with industries and communities, and it includes an Entrepreneurship Certificate Program that is open to students of any major.
“Promoting excellence in teaching and learning while also fostering innovation and entrepreneurship are key components of the university’s 2025 strategic plan,” noted Vice President for Instruction Rahul Shrivastav. “We have nationally recognized strengths in each of these areas that we continue to build upon for the benefit of our students and state.”
Students can also gain expertise in applying big data to a range of fields through the university’s Informatics Certificate Program. A recently launched Presidential Interdisciplinary Faculty Hiring Initiative in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence aims to recruit 50 additional faculty members over a two-year period to teach courses that foster data literacy while also advancing research that applies big data to urgent challenges in areas such as infectious diseases, integrative precision agriculture and the environment.
“By connecting promising students with innovative faculty members who are at the forefront of their fields, the University of Georgia contributes to the vitality of our state and world,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “We are excited about the upcoming academic year and all of the new opportunities for learning and discovery that it brings.”