According to information released by the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), UC Davis admitted a total of 24,551 students to its incoming freshman class out of 60,536 applications. The 40.6 percent admit rate was slightly higher than last year’s 39.4 percent. UC Davis has targeted to enroll approximately 5,200 freshmen for fall 2014.
The average 4.07 grade point average (GPA) remains about the same from last year’s 4.08. The average SAT or converted ACT score rose from 1932 to 1950 for this year’s admits.
The University saw an increase in international and out-of-state admits from previous years. Of the recent admits, 17,813 are California residents, 2,454 are from out-of-state and 4,284 are international students. International and out-of-state admits rose from last year by 1,066 and 616 admits, respectively. California admits also increased by 871 admits from 2013. According to statistics provided by UCOP, international and out-of-state admits have risen steadily over the past few years.
According to Walter Robinson, executive director of Undergraduate Admissions at UC Davis, the increase of international admits was made in order to bring more global diversity to the campus. However, he maintains that California residents remain the overwhelming majority of students admitted to UC Davis.
“Global diversity is a value added to the undergraduate educational experience,” Robinson said. “Not everyone has an opportunity to go abroad, but for us to be able to bring abroad here is very important. I think at the end of the day, we’re still probably around 92 percent Californians in our undergraduate student body. Even though this year our percentage of nonresidents is higher than what it was last year and last year was higher than the year before, still the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of undergraduates enrolled here are from California.”
According to Wesley Young, director for Services For International Students and Scholars, the increase in international students support the University financially for the money no longer provided by the state of California. However, Young maintains that the population of international students, who only make up six percent of the undergraduate population, is not as large as many people perceive.
“California residents don’t pay for the full cost of their education; it’s subsidized by the state of California,” Young said. “I know it doesn’t feel like a good deal, but you’re paying less than what your education costs. In the past, it was primarily the state of California that makes up that difference, but because state money has fallen off so much in the last several years, international students are paying full fare. If we didn’t have international students, California residents would be paying a lot more tuition I’d think.”
Of the recent admits, 2.8 percent identify as African American, 0.7 percent identify as American Indian, 41.5 percent identify as Asian American, 21.2 percent identify as Hispanic/Latino, 0.2 percent identify as Pacific Islander, 29.7 percent identify as white and 3.7 percent did not provide a racial report. Most racial groups stayed relatively the same from last year. White admits saw a dip in 199 admits and Asian American and Hispanic/Latino admits increased in numbers of 494 and 541, respectively.
While 2014 marked the first time Hispanic/Latino students outnumbered white students in terms of total UC admissions, Alma Martinez, UC Davis Student Affairs coordinator for Chicano/a studies, still sees potential growth in order to match UC Davis’ Hispanic/Latino population with state demographics.
“When looking at the percentages of Chicano/Latino students on our campus it is clear that there is a lot more work to do if the demographics on the University are going to reflect the demographics of the state and on the K-12 pipeline in California,” Martinez said.
Of the 2014 admits, 35.3 percent are first-generation college students, 31.8 percent are from low-income families and 19.4 percent are from high schools with a low Academic Performance Indicator. Each of these numbers saw an increase from the previous year.
“I think this class has the strongest academic indicators as well as the strongest diversity that we’ve had in a single class in maybe the last 10 years,” Robinson said.
While Robinson doesn’t believe the incoming class has made a huge contribution to the 2020 initiative, he said it is heading in the right direction. The 2020 Initiative is a plan designed to build excellence and diversity at UC Davis by expanding the student population by approximately 5,000 students by the year 2020. Robinson said the slow progression was due to the remaining buildings needing to be built and faculty needing to be hired in order to accommodate an increase in students.
“I don’t know that we have hit full stride on the 2020 Initiative, but it’s moving in the correct direction for this spirit and intent of the 2020 Initiative,” Robinson said. “I think that next year we might see a bigger number than this year and it may become steeper, but we don’t want to bring in more students than we are in a position to support at this time.”
According to Robinson, undergraduate admissions uses a holistic review based on policy and guidelines provided by the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools and the UC Davis Admissions and Enrollment Committee. After reviewing applications, admissions consults with the university budget office, academic department deans and the Office of Institutional Analysis in order to determine an admit range. According to Robinson, there is a distinct admit range for each college and some majors.
In order to expand geographical diversity, Robinson said admissions will look at California high schools, usually in low-resource or rural areas, where no students were accepted and accept students that fit the admission criteria. Additionally, Robinson said extra review will be given to students who are comparable to other students from their high school who were already admitted.
In addition to academics, Robinson emphasizes the importance of extracurriculars, volunteerism and personal statements in order to set students apart from other students who may have similar academic scores. According to Robinson, personal statements are reviewed based on how well the student tied it in to the rest of the application.
“We have so many students with great grades and great test scores, so some students can tell their story in a way that’s very compelling and coupled with strong academic performance,” Robinson said. “We take a look at upward trends of improvement. So a lot of times there’s students who are better than their numbers and there are some students who had tremendous numbers, but not much of a story.”
For students applying for the 2015-16 school year, the UC undergraduate admissions application will open on Aug. 1, two months earlier than previous years.
Students admitted to UC Davis’ incoming freshmen class have until May 1 to return their statement of intent to register.
Alexandria Zaydhar, an incoming first-year chemistry major, was attracted to UC Davis for its agricultural environment.
“I chose Davis because of the farm life. It’s basically my home away from home,” Zaydhar said.
JASON PHAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Kenneth Cunningham.