Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.
Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

UC Office of the President (UCOP) recently said that an increase in selectivity across most campuses made admissions the most competitive in UC history this year.

UCOP released admittance information for the fall 2010 California resident freshman class on April 14.

A projected 18.5 percent of California public high school graduates applied to UCs, an amount up 5.5 percent since 2008. Systemwide, 71.6 percent of California resident students who applied for fall 2010 were admitted, down slightly from 72.5 percent in 2009.

Susan Wilbur, director of undergraduate admissions for the UC, said that a lack of state funding for enrollment increases — along with a current over-enrollment of 15,000 — contributed to the necessity for enrollment cutbacks.

“The UC remains committed to enrolling as many California students as we are funded for,” Wilbur said.

Students have been encouraged to apply to as many UCs as possible.

“With increased selectivity on many of the campuses students were encouraged to apply broadly to increase their chances of getting an offer,” Wilbur said.

UCSC did not have a significant change in selectivity this year, offering admission to 64.9 percent of California freshman who applied, up from 63.7 percent in 2009.

Michelle Whittingham, Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management, said that over the past few years the campus has increased in popularity.

“Back in 2004, all students who applied to UC were granted admission to UCSC,” Whittingham said. “We are excited to see access to low-income, first-generation and underrepresented communities continue to increase even as admission to UCSC becomes more selective.”

The 2010 freshman admissions mark a slight increase in the enrollment of students from underrepresented communities, from 22.7 percent in 2008 to 24.6 percent.

UC Student Association President Victor Sanchez says that cuts to enrollment reflect the inability of the state to support the increase in UC eligible students.

“We’ve had to cut back everything so much [that] enrollment needs to cut back too. Then students who don’t get into the UCs get pushed to CSUs which have already cut enrollment, and [CSUs] push on the community colleges … The state can not meet the needs of a growing population of high school graduates,” Sanchez said.

For the first time in UC history wait lists will be created for students who are eligible to attend a UC but did not receive admission offers. Merced and Los Angeles will be the only campuses not to incorporate a wait list.

“The wait list basically says you’re eligible but we don’t have room,” Sanchez said.

When students submit statements of intent to register (SIR) the campuses will know how close they came to the target enrollment numbers. Freshman SIR are due by May 1 and transfer students’ SIR are due by June 1.

If there are spots still available after students have registered, campuses will offer them to students on their wait lists, giving another opportunity to enroll California resident students.

Some UC campuses are accepting more out of state and international students as a funding strategy during budget cuts.

“There is no choice but to enroll fewer California resident students,” Wilbur said. “It’s a strategy that brings in more money so that we can offer the same quality level of education to our California students.”

Each campus has its own selection process and criteria. UCSC, however, has not had a significant shift in admission offers between residency types. 94.5 percent of the freshman admitted to UCSC for fall 2010 were California residents.

The systemwide average is 86 percent, down from 88.7 percent in 2008. Only 73.2 percent of students offered admission at UC Berkeley are California residents.

“UCSC has 14 criteria for selection, some of which give points to students from low-performing high schools, or for being from certain geographic locations in California,” Whittingham said . “While we welcome students from out of state and international students, [UCSC] continues to focus on students within the state.”