College Admissions

Archive for January, 2009

UC Applications Increase

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

It’s official. The University of California received a record number of applications for fall 2009. Almost 127,000 students applied, an increase of nearly 5 percent over last year. Freshman applications are up 3 percent and transfer applications are up 11 percent.

The increase in applications comes at the same time that UC plans to reduce freshman enrollment by 6 percent. The good news is that Berkeley and Merced will actually admit more students. UCLA will see less than a 1 percent reduction in the freshman class, and the number of applications held steady this year, so things shouldn’t change dramatically.  But since the number of applications increased at Irvine and Davis, both of which are targeted for substantial decreases in freshmen, those campuses are likely to be more competitive this year. Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and San Diego received fewer applications this year, but San Diego is likely to remain quite competitive since the school will be reducing the freshman class by 12 percent. 

At least the rate of growth in applications seems to be slowing, since this year’s 5 percent increase is smaller than last year’s 9 percent.

Reducing SAT Anxiety

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

There are many ways to prepare for standardized tests, but the first step is to lower the anxiety level. Before taking the SAT, find some colleges you like where the average scores are close to your PSAT scores. The worst way to go into the SAT is thinking “If I don’t get these scores up 300 points, I’ll never get into a good college.” In addition to creating needless suffering, that kind of pressure can sabotage months of SAT preparation.


Setting up a schedule of test dates also reduces anxiety. Most students take the SAT two or three times. Knowing there is another chance reduces the “now or never” pressure that can cause you to miss questions you could otherwise answer.


Juniors usually take the SAT for the first time in March or May. In general, I encourage students to start preparing for the SAT about two months before their first test date. Many students take the test again in October or November of senior year, and can spend time over the summer, if necessary, doing additional preparation.


Register for the ACT so you can tell yourself if the SAT doesn’t go well, there’s a different test that you might find easier. I often have students take each test once to see which is better for them, and then they can concentrate on that test.


And remember that many very successful people had less than stellar SAT scores in high school. While you may need to take standardized tests, you don’t need to let them determine your self-esteem.