UC Admissions Trends and Applications

The flood of applications into the UC System continued unabated for the fall of 2018. 

More than 200,000 students applied for undergraduate admissions. This means the number of applicants increased an average of 5.7% across the 9-schools that incorporate the undergraduate UC System. You can see a campus by campus comparison of freshman applicant composition at the UCOP (UC Office of the President) website. https://www.ucop.edu/institutional-research-academic-planning/_files/factsheets/2018/fall-2018-applications-table2.2.pdf 

One of the major issues many applicants are concerned with is the number of seats in the UC System being allocated to out of state and international students. State funding to the UCs and Cal State dropped 20% between 2007 and 2013, which indeed drove the UCs to seek alternative revenue sources. On average, an out-of-state student will pay around $61, 000 a year versus in-state students paying $35,000.

The number of international applications continues to robustly grow. Virtually all the UCs, except for Merced and Riverside, witnessed double digit growth in international applications, with the largest number of international applications going to UCSD, which garnered just fewer than 20,000.

Such finagling with the number of residential seats, though, does not go unnoticed by the State lawmakers. In 2016, when the number of admissions was increasingly being absorbed by nonresidents, the State threatened to withhold $18 million in public university funding if a cap wasn’t placed on non-residential acceptances. 

UC Irvine, whose total applicant pool increased almost 12% this fall, had its admissions rate dip to 29% from 37% last fall. For good reason, last year 800 more accepted applicants placed a deposit to enroll than had been anticipated by the admissions office. UCI attempted to revoke admissions to 500, yet, in the end UCI enrolled an unexpectedly large 7100 class last year. 

Berkeley’s admission rate fell from 18% to 15%. UCLA remained the most competitive campus in the UC System with its admission rate falling from 16% to 14%.  Most of this information to most in-state applicants is probably not surprising.  While trends might give you a sense of your odds, the crux of the process is just getting in.  

I find the blog from Ms. Sun (Ask Ms. Sun-- https://askmssun.com/blog/) a useful source in getting through all the misconceptions and preconceptions of admissions to the UC system. Knowledge is power because the UCs are dynamic and who and what they’re looking for changes admissions cycle to admissions cycle. 

One piece of advice that is very important, if you’re aiming at a specific UC campus find out what that campus is looking for in an applicant. The campuses can be quite different. UC Riverside, for example, does not even read applicant essays, while UCLA claims to perform a holistic review on each applicant.  

If your focus is on UCLA, you can discover what UCLA is looking for in candidates for specific colleges at http://www.admission.ucla.edu/Prospect/Adm_fr/FrSel.htm. Visit this site and you’ll discover that whatever major you select within the College of Arts and Sciences has no bearing on your admissions prospects. That is not the same for Samueli School of Engineering or attempting to enter into the School of Nursing, which has a 2% admissions rate. You’ll also discover that talent trumps all other factors when attempting to gain admission to the School of Arts and Architecture, the Herb Alpert School of Music, or the School of Film, Theater and Television.   

More detailed information on UCLA admissions can be found on its Common Data Set (section C7), which gives you a quick synopsis of the criteria used as a basis for selection. (https://www.apb.ucla.edu/campus-statistics/common-data-set) All the UC campuses supply CDSs, so go to the campus of interest and get current on what it’s looking for in its top candidates. 

The UCs are becoming ever more competitive. Being informed early as to how you might shape your candidacy to improve your chances of gaining admission is a necessity. The tools are there.