The University of California today confirmed what we already knew—it's never been tougher to get into a UC.
At the two most selective campuses, UCLA and Berkeley, the percentage of freshmen who were admitted hit new lows: At UCLA, only 14 percent of students received acceptances; at Berkeley, only 15 percent did. And the numbers of students applying were astronomical. UCLA received more than 113,000 freshmen applications. That’s the highest number of applicants to any college, public or private, ever in the United States!
UC San Diego was the second most applied to university in the U.S. with nearly 98,000 students vying for admission. That translates into a 30 percent admission rate. It’s interesting, though, that UC Irvine rose to become the third most selective of the UC campuses, with about 29 percent of applicants admitted. That’s a big jump over previous years, when both San Diego and Santa Barbara were more selective. (UCI was likely very cautious in the number of students it accepted this year, after last year’s unexpectedly high yield resulted in hundreds of students having their acceptances revoked and terrible publicity for the university.)
About a third of the students who applied to UCSB were admitted; the stats were 41 percent at UC Davis; 48 percent at UC Santa Cruz; and slightly more than half at UC Riverside. UC Merced continues to be the campus where the largest percentage of students was accepted, at 71 percent.
So what does all this mean? At least in the UC system, getting into the most popular campuses becomes more brutally competitive every year, with many high stat students receiving rejections. That’s frustrating for California parents whose taxes have paid into the system for so many years. And it’s frustrating for students with stats that often would have meant acceptances in years past.
Students applying to the most competitive UC campuses this year need to be aware of these numbers—they may want to consider applying to campuses they hadn’t actively considered in the past (unless a student has a fee waiver, he or she pays $70 to each campus selected. But the same application is sent out to each, so there’s no extra work to apply to additional campuses.)
There’s one more thing rising seniors can do to boost their chances of getting into the UC campus of their choice—and this is where The Write Direction can help. Students should begin brainstorming topics and writing drafts of their essays, which the UCs call "personal insight questions." The UC application requires four essays (out of eight prompts) of no more than 350 words each. With astronomical numbers of students applying to the UCs, responses to these questions can certainly affect a student’s chances of admission.
Don’t know where to start? We’re offering a series of free workshops on how to write effective college admission essays. They’re designed for high school seniors and are given throughout Orange County from July through September (specifically, in Irvine, Seal Beach, Foothill Ranch, Orange, Costa Mesa, and Westminster.) Check out dates and locations here.
We also provide one-on-one guidance to students working on their essays. Students can apply for scholarships for free assistance or contact us about extremely affordable rates for editing. We’re a nonprofit organization and want to help make this crazy college admissions process a little fairer for low and middle income students in Orange County. So feel free to reach out to us and we can talk about what might work for you.