College Admissions

Archive for September, 2009

UC Update

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

At the recent UC Counselor Conference, it was clear that with an $813 million shortfall this year, times are tough at the University of California.


Every campus is currently overenrolled, and UC is not getting state funding for the extra 14,000 students. The freshman enrollment target is certain to decline this year. UCLA is overenrolled by 1,700 California students. Since resident fees don’t come close to covering the cost to educate a student, when the state doesn’t fund those 1,700 extra students, UCLA’s budget is further strained.


Campuses that were previously not very competitive have become more selective. The admit rate at Santa Cruz went from 74% in 2008 to 64% in 2009. Santa Cruz is expected to be slightly more selective this year, but the difference won’t be as dramatic as we have seen in recent years. Davis, which has become very popular in recent years, admitted 68% of students back in 2006, and just 46% in 2009. Berkeley did not cut enrollment last year, but will do so this year. 


In the past, UC eligible students who were not admitted to more selective campuses would be referred to Riverside and Merced, even if they hadn’t applied to those schools. But this year students who are willing to attend those campuses should apply, because the referral process will be sharply curtailed.


UC Irvine used a waitlist year for the first time in 2009, and there is discussion of a possible systemwide waitlist for 2010.


There is good news for students who are Eligible in Local Context (ELC), meaning they are in the top four percent of their class. They will be again be guaranteed admission to Davis, Irvine, Riverside and Santa Barbara.


While freshman enrollment will decrease, UC will have a modest increase in spaces allotted to for transfer students.


The changes on UC campuses will go well beyond admissions. A hiring freeze on permanent faculty, fewer lecturers and teaching assistants, bigger classes, curtailed library hours, and reduced support services are some of the ways the budget crisis is impacting the UC. 


While admissions directors stressed that every effort is being made to keep the cuts from impacting the classroom experience, there’s no way around it. Students may have to take classes at 8am or 5pm. Some programs and courses will be cut. Freshmen currently graduate from UC in 4.25 years on average, but that could increase if it becomes more difficult to get classes. Students will have a different UC experience than their older siblings might have had a few years ago.


The cost of attending a UC will go up, with a midyear increase and then a substantial increase for fall 2010. The amount will be set in November, but the current $26,400 average total cost could top $28,000 next year. Part of the increase in fees will go to financial aid, to minimize the impact on needy students.


I left the conference thinking I will advise my students who want to attend a UC campus to apply widely this year. Students who would easily have been admitted to their favorite UC campus in the past could be disappointed.


While their transcript is set at this point, seniors can still improve their prospects for admission by improving their standardized test scores and making the most of the personal statement on the UC application.


Freshmen, sophomores and juniors should start planning now if they want to be in a strong position to apply to the UC in the next few years.