With a 13% increase in student applications to the University of California for entry into the class of Fall 2012, admission continues to be extremely competitive, especially to the most select campuses of Berkeley and UCLA. UC Berkeley alone saw a 16% increase this year, receiving 61,661 freshman applications. UCLA received 72,626 freshman applications for Fall 2012, an 18.1% increase from Fall 2011.
In a phone interview with UC spokesperson, Dianne Klein in the Office of the President, Klein believes Californians haven’t given up on the UC system and the increase in applications is a testament to the continued cost value and quality of a UC education, despite the tuition increases and cutbacks. In addition, Klein believes that the elimination of the SAT Subject Tests increased the number of students who were eligible for admission. Klein, however, said that UC will continue to guarantee admission to all qualified students who have met the a-g requirements. Most likely she said, many applicants may be assigned to attend UC Merced, the newest and the smallest of the UC campuses. Merced offers a much more limited number of undergraduate majors (19) and in Fall 2011 had a combined undergraduate and graduate population of about 5,200. But a smaller campus has many advantages and Merced may be a perfect choice for students looking for a more intimate college experience.
About 3,000 UC applicants have been notified to complete a supplemental application. The students selected were asked to provide the admissions team with additional information, including Fall semester grades, and an option to submit a letter of recommendation. UC says that the additional information can only help a student’s application.
All students this year receive a comprehensive review. Readers look for academic strength, leadership, talent, test scores, and other factors that show maturity and a student’s potential to contribute to the university community.
Much of the reading of applications falls outside campus admissions offices. Janet Gilmore, spokesperson for UC Berkeley explained, “We have a group of 60-70 experienced readers who work with us again and again. On average, we hire 10-20 new readers per year. This year we hired 30 new readers in anticipation of a larger than normal increase in applications. All readers receive a minimum of 26 hours of training before they are released to read applications. All readers meet weekly for norming during freshman reading. (During the weekly norming sessions, sample applications are discussed individually before the evaluators come to consensus about the appropriate score for each applicant. These sessions help ensure that readers are using the same yardstick when measuring students’ achievements and potential.).”
At Berkeley, students who have chosen not to take AP tests, even though they have taken AP coursework, will not be disadvantaged, according to information on UC Berkeley’s admissions page. Students applying to Berkeley’s College of Engineering are assessed by different criteria than students applying to other Schools or departments. For engineering applicants, candidates strength in math, science. and SAT Subject Math II scores are given consideration.
Freshman will be notified of UC admission decisions around March 29, 2012.