Student fees may be on the rise, but the hike in tuition has not deterred a record number of applicants from seeking admission to the University of California for fall 2010.
134,029 students applied to the nine undergraduate campuses, a 5.8 percent increase for the UC system from fall 2009. The increase at UC Davis was even higher at 6.3 percent, or 54,521 applications compared to last year’s 51,298. To cope with the demand, Davis will be among several UC campuses to utilize a waitlist for potential freshman applicants.
“The waitlist gives us the opportunity to tell students that we would love to have but because of requirements, cannot accept that they have a potential opportunity to attend our campus,” said Frank Wada, executive director of undergraduate admissions at UC Davis. “In [the] past students were either in or out, with no in between.”
Carol Curinga, a counselor at Davis Senior High, expressed concern regarding the change.
“When students are waitlisted, it holds them in limbo,” she said. “They are hard pressed to know whether to wait or accept at their second choice school.”
The specifics of the wait listing process at UCD will be decided after UC regents announce possible reductions in enrollment rates, Wada said. Last year, the systemwide freshman class was reduced by 6 percent – or roughly 2,300 students – to cope with decreased state funding.
Regents will likely vote to decrease once again, but probably not as drastically as in 2009, said Susan Wilbur, UC executive director of undergraduate admissions in an e-mail interview.
“UC is currently overenrolled by approximately 15,000 students -students for whom the university is not funded by the state,” Wilbur said. “We need to bring enrollments in line with funding in order to maintain a high quality program for currently enrolled students.”
The rise in applications may come as a surprise to some, after UC regents voted in November to increase student fees by 32 percent. Wada noted that the 25 percent increase in transfer applications to UC Davis makes it a more significant contributor to the increase than the 2.2 percent rise in freshman applications, though he explained that the desire for higher education also appears to be a factor in the rise.
“There is still a tremendous cost benefit to achieving a bachelor’s degree in a specific field,” Wada said. “The increase sends a strong message that students seek an opportunity to improve their livelihood.”
Wada also explained that state demographics play an important role in predicting application rates, and added that a slight reduction is expected between now and the end of the decade.
Curinga credited increased competition within the UC system for the increase, explaining that she witnessed an increase in applications to both out of state and private universities this year as well.
“Students are applying to more colleges because the bar has been raised higher. They know enrollment is dropping,” she said. “It’s very unclear what acceptances will look like. The funnel is getting narrower and narrower.”
MEGAN MURPHY can be reached at email@example.com.