Despite receiving more applications than last year, the University of California system admitted just shy of 125,600 freshmen this year — a 5% drop from the 132,353 invited to enroll in 2021, according to preliminary findings shared by UC.
But the drop came entirely among the high-paying, out-of-state and international students that UC has been widely criticized for favoring in recent years at the expense of home-grown applicants. The number of first-year college students from the Golden State increased slightly, setting a new record.
“The university’s enduring dedication to California’s young people and its partnership with the state continue to attract unprecedented numbers of talented Golden State students,” UC President Michael V. Drake said in a statement. “It is our privilege to be able to offer admission to the state’s largest-ever class of California students.”
The number of California freshmen systemwide was up 1.2% to more than 85,250 students. Meanwhile, the number of out-of-state admits plunged 19% to just under 23,000, and the number of international students was down 12% to about 17,500. In recent years, the legislature has given UC more state funding to enroll more Californians.
Olufemi Ogundele, UC Berkeley’s associate vice chancellor of enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admissions, also chalks up the shift to increased recruitment events in-state and more robust financial aid packages to entice more students to continue their education in California.
“Given the pandemic, many institutions had fewer events,” Ogundele said in a statement. “We welcomed the students, and we are seeing all of those efforts bear fruit.”
Still, his own campus, one of the system’s most elite, may welcome its smallest cohort overall of incoming students in four years when classes begin August 24. Only 14,600 freshman applicants and 5,250 transfer students received acceptance letters to Cal.
UC Berkeley accepted 11.4% of the more than 128,000 first-year students who applied to tackle classes in 2022 — down from last year’s 14% — while 27% of transfer students were admitted.
Those numbers could have been even lower. UC Berkeley narrowly dodged a court order tied to an environmental dispute with neighbors to slash 5,000 admission offers this year and continues to struggle to provide enough beds for its students in the Bay Area’s tight housing market. But university spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in a statement that “the litigation issues of this winter ultimately had no impact on the number of admission offers.”
Zooming into UC Berkeley’s newest cohort of Golden Bears, accepted students came from all but five of California’s 58 counties, 55 U.S. states and territories and 88 different countries. Demographics within that pool of newly admitted students remained diverse: 39% Asian, 24.5% Latino, 22.3% white, 5.5% Black, 3.5% Filipino and 0.8% Native American.
Although this was the first year that all state public universities formally eliminated standardized test requirements — California is the first and only state to nix the SAT and ACT — admissions into UC Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Cruz each plummeted between 14.5% and 23.3% this year. Santa Barbara’s rates fell 7%.
Only two UC campuses — Merced and Riverside — each sent out more than 2,500 additional acceptance letters this fall.
One reason is that at more-competitive campuses, enrollment increased unexpectedly last fall, when more students than anticipated accepted their admission offers. That forced campuses to hold down numbers this year. It’s not yet clear what the 2022 enrollment figures will be.
Breanne Boyle, a past president of the Western Association for College Admissions Counseling who also runs her own college advising business, said the fact that more families may have applied to in-state schools in order to save money on tuition, housing or transportation during the pandemic may also have skewed the numbers.
“The numbers of applications have gone up so much, but it’s not like the UCs are opening up more seats to kind of keep up with that,” Boyle said. “Therefore, the admit rates have been driving down lower.”
UCLA admitted just shy of 13,000 students, well below the 15,000+ who were admitted in 2020 and 2021. UC Santa Cruz admitted just over 31,000 students, significantly fewer than the more than 35,000 who gained admission each of the previous two years. To the south, UC San Diego also saw a sizable drop off, from more than 40,000 admissions last year to just more than 31,000 in 2022.
Still, Boyle isn’t too concerned, about admission at the UC system or to other schools.
“Even unrelated to the UC system, colleges are still admitting students like they were before the pandemic,” Boyle said. “They still want students.”