BOTHELL — An enrollment surge in recent years has helped the University of Washington’s Bothell campus surpass all of the other branch campuses in the state.
For the fall quarter, 4,172 students enrolled at UW-Bothell. That’s 253 more than UW-Tacoma, the next largest of the state’s five branch campuses.
The growth is credited in part to the school being in a metropolitan area near cities such as Bellevue and Redmond. There is also an increasing demand for higher education, the university’s spokesman Richard Penny said.
That’s encouraging news for Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson. He’s been part of a group trying to get a branch campus for Washington State University established in Everett. WSU, which has three of the state’s branch campuses, already is holding classes at the University Center at Everett Community College. WSU is seeking $2 million from the state to expand its course offerings.
“This is evidence that people in our area are seeking access to higher education opportunities,” Stephanson said in an email.
Junior Andrew Harvey, 21, transferred this quarter to UW-Bothell from the adjoining Cascadia Community College. He always wanted to attend a UW school and visited the campuses in Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma last school year. He chose Bothell because of its size and because of the state’s plans to expand the campus.
“(The Bothell campus) fit the requirements I had for the perfect school,” Harvey said.
Harvey, a computer science major, also considered costs.
Tuition has increased at the Bothell campus, with undergraduate resident students paying $11,911 for the school year. That’s $1,337 more than last year.
Even with the increase, UW-Bothell was the more affordable option for Harvey because he lives north of the city with his parents and doesn’t need to pay rent.
“The cost of living in Bothell is cheap. It’s a lot cheaper compared to other campuses,” he said.
The UW-Bothell has seen enrollment skyrocket in just the past five years. The campus had 1,884 students enrolled in fall quarter in 2007; this year, it’s 4,172.
The 670 freshmen enrolled this quarter is the biggest incoming class ever, Penny said. UW-Bothell enrollment started to rise dramatically when the Legislature allowed the school to accept freshmen in 2006. Before 2006, UW’s Bothell campus was limited to accepting juniors, seniors and graduate students.
The enrollment growth also brings a few other benchmarks. This year, about half of the incoming freshmen are the first in their families to attend a four-year university. And the number of students in all grade levels who belong to a minority group has reached 1,781.
Christina Aguirre, 18, is trying to become the first member of her family to get a college degree.
The Mariner High School graduate is studying business so she can get a good job.
“I wanted to be the family member that can help them financially,” Aguirre said.
She chose Bothell because of its smaller class sizes, she liked the campus, and it was closer to her home in Everett.
About a third of the students who go to the UW-Bothell originally went to high school in Snohomish County. Mariner is one of UW-Bothell’s top feeder schools, as is Kamiak High School.
The growth at UW-Bothell also benefits Cascadia Community College. The schools share facilities, such as a library and the Commons Hall.
More students also means that there will be more course offerings and more extracurricular activities for both colleges, spokeswoman Meagan Walker said.
“We are thrilled for UW,” Walker said. “The growth is absolutely a positive thing for us.”
Meanwhile, UW-Bothell plans to grow more, with a goal of reaching 5,000 students by 2015. Expanding course offerings is part of the strategy.
Currently, construction is under way on a new science and technology building that will offer courses in engineering and other technical fields in high demand fields, Penny said.
The building is scheduled to open in fall 2014.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall enrollment has grown over the years at the University of Washington’s Bothell campus:
Around the state
These are the enrollment numbers for the five university branch campuses in Washington state:
* Washington State’s branch campus in Spokane is only for upper-class students.
Source: University of Washington and Washington State University