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UC and CSU Deal with Record Numbers of Applicants

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UC and CSU Deal with Record Numbers of Applicants

COLLEGE: UC and CSU campuses find It difficult to accommodate the increasing number of applicants.

By Marc Cortes
April 13, 2018


Were you accepted to UCLA, UC Riverside or Cal State Northridge?

Consider yourself lucky. Thousands of other high school seniors have been squeezed out of the UC and CSU systems due to an increased demand for a limited number of slots.

Many students applying to the public universities this year were let down by rejection letter after rejection letter.

“I was optimistic about submitting my application to the UC system. Getting my results back was extremely disheartening. It was especially frustrating when I saw even more deserving people suffer the same disappointing responses”, said senior Jocelyn Sosa.

In 2017, the Cal State system turned down over 30,000 eligible students and the University of California system turned away over 10,000 students from their schools of choice.

Many UC and CSU campuses are becoming increasingly competitive, leaving many students waitlisted or rejected from schools that were supposed to be their “safety schools.”

California Governor Jerry Brown and the State Legislature continue to pressure UC campuses to increase enrollment of California residents and transfers. Until UC meets certain demands, including an enrollment ratio of one transfer student for every two freshmen, Brown will withhold $50 million in state funding.

For the Fall 2018 enrollment, the University of California experienced an overall increase of 5.7 percent since 2017, with a record-shattering number of over 221,000 applications. Individual campuses experienced a fair range of increases, from Berkeley’s 4.6 percent increase to Riverside’s 12.4 percent increase.

In addition, applications from California residents grew 7.1 percent over last year. UCLA received the most freshman applications of 71,386 from California residents, followed by Irvine’s 71,130 and Santa Barbara’s 66,436.

With a systemwide increase of 5.7 percent for freshman applicants and 5.5 percent for transfer applicants, UC schools may soon be forced to find an answer to the problem of limited campus space.

In March 2018, UC President Janet Napolitano proposed a solution to guarantee admission to qualified community college transfers and called upon chancellors to graduate more students within the four year period from the current 64 percent to 70 percent.

Many officials call for a list of eligibility guidelines so that prospective transfer students can be aware of the required classes and GPA that they need to achieve to be considered.

“Knowing how transformative a UC education can be—for the individual, for the society at large—it’s incumbent upon us to help more Californians become part of the opportunity story.”

-President Janet Napolitano, commemorating the UC system’s 150 anniversary.

While UC campuses have enrolled 90,000 more students since 2000, state funding has remained flat, attributing to a decline in UC per-student spending.

Proposed changes are estimated to make enough room to enroll an additional 32,000 undergraduates by 2030.

As for Cal States, the new approach aims to redirect qualified applicants who are rejected from their school of choice to an available campus, instead of rejecting them all together. Officials also aim to double the system’s four-year graduation rate to 40 percent by 2025.

The California State University system received a one-time funding boost of $20 million under Gov. Brown’s 2017-2018 budget plan, yet this was still not enough to prevent controversial tuition increases.

The school system explains that they are left with few options. Gov. Brown’s budget draft this year only proposed a $92 million increase for the system instead of the requested $263 million.

CSU trustees are expected to vote on tuition proposals in May, possibly raising the annual cost to $5,970 for in-state students and $12,780 for full-time nonresidents.

Although under constant scrutiny and criticism, the tuition increases last year were able to raise $75 million. This supplied enough room to add 3,200 new course sections, translating to 90,000 more seats for students.

While California’s universities struggle to find space for thousands of students, some are turning to the alternative of attending an out-of-state university.

In the last decade, the enrollment of Californians in out-of-state colleges such as Arizona State University and Oregon State University has more than doubled.

According to US Department of Education data from 2014, more than 36,000 California freshmen enrolled in out-of-state universities.

Lande Ajose, executive director of California Competes, an organization that advocates for increased accessibility in higher-ed policies, along with many other analysts, is troubled by statistical evidence of the state estimating a shortfall in college-educated residents within the next couple decades.

“Without a focus on how we’re able to move kids through, we’re leaving industries at risk of not needing to find the talent that they need to have” said Ajose.

Public Policy Institute California, a non-profit, nonpartisan research institution, estimates that by 2030, 40 percent of jobs in California will require at least a bachelor’s degree, but projections show that state universities are not producing enough graduates to meet the job demand.

School officials, educators, and students alike express deep concerns with the current situation but only time will tell if the proposed changes will change anything.


Marc Cortes is a writer for the News Department. Currently in his junior year, this is his first year working for The Mirror.

He enjoys a wide range of musical genres, from rap to EDM to Taylor Swift. Suffering from chronic procrastination and a tendency to internalize his emotions, Marc avoids thinking about his troubles by watching Netflix and YouTube.


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UC and CSU Deal with Record Numbers of Applicants