March 31st, 2023
So much of my job has become managing the expectations of parents and students, trying to get parents to see that the college rankings have little value (they are based on a flawed methodology), helping students find colleges that go beyond those 50 most well-known and difficult to get into, and making sure my students put a few favorable and target schools on their lists so that they have great options!
This season I had the pleasure of working with many thoughtful, smart, and dedicated seniors who received acceptances to the following schools:
Arizona State University
Ball State University
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Cal State Long Beach
Chico State University
Colorado State University
James Madison University
Loyola Marymount University
Michigan State University
Ohio State University
Oregon State University
Penn State University (Main Campus)
San Diego State University
UC San Diego
UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Cruz
University of Arizona
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Iowa
University of Michigan
University of Nevada Reno
University of Oregon
University of the Arts University of Utah
University of Wisconsin Madison
Washington State University
Several people have reached out to me in the last week asking if this year was more brutal for my students and, honestly, I don't think this year was any different than the past couple of brutal years.
In CA, the UCs and more competitive Cal States continue to have WAY more qualified CA applicants than there are spots, and students are being compared to their classmates within their own high school in terms of rigor (# of AP and IB and college courses), GPA, activities, etc. Students in competitive public high schools like here in Irvine and Tustin are at a disadvantage because there are so many accomplished students taking those same classes and earning stellar grades. And since test scores can no longer be used, more students apply, and the admit rate remains low. For these reasons, the most desirable UC campuses: UCLA, UCSB, UCI, Cal, UCSC, UCD will continue to be selective schools for ALL students.
And Ivies and other highly rejective schools that boast single digit admit rates are ALWAYS huge reach schools unless the student has an extraordinary accomplishment (nationally or internationally recognized talent, recruited athlete, published research, designed or created something and got a patent approved, etc.). Then it becomes a reach instead of a huge reach.
Rather than focusing on what they can do to have a chance at these schools, I try to get my students to focus on what they like to do, the classes they are interested in, the activities that appeal to them. If they follow their passions, they will have an authentic story to tell, and if they go into the admissions process with an open mind and heart, they will find a college where they will be happy and flourish.
Most UC campuses saw a record number of first-year applications in last year's admissions cycle, fueled most likely by UC's test blind admission policy.
The campuses continue to prioritize the following:
--Admitting more CA residents to meet the states mandate that no more that 18% of students are non residents
--Admitting high percentages of first generation and Low Income students
Here are the Application Numbers and Admit Rates by campus (in order of most selective to least selective):
9% admit rate (first time in single digits)
11% admit rate
21% Admit Rate
UC San Diego
Admit rate 23.7%
UC Santa Barbara
26% admit rate
37.5% admit rate
UC Santa Cruz
47.1% admit rate
69.35% admit rate
90% Admit rate
UC campuses can see the following GPAS when reviewing applications: Weighted, Unweighted, and UC Weighted Capped.
Below are the Median 50% GPAs shared this morning by each Campus (in alphabetical order).
Weighted GPA: 4.31-4.66
Unweighted GPA: 3.83-4.0
UC Weighted Capped GPA: 4.05-4.29
Weighted GPA: 4.22
Unweighted GPA 3.95
Weighted GPA: 4.53
Capped GPA: 4.26
Weighted GPA 3.78
Weighted GPA (range): 3.8 - 4.19
UC San Diego
Weighted GPA (range): 4.12 - 4.3
UC Santa Barbara
Weighted GPA: 4.52
All campuses allow students to choose an alternate major, but for many campuses (i.e. Berkeley and UC Irvine), the student will only be considered for the alternate major if space remains in the alternate major or for the waitlist. Students must be directly admitted to engineering and other highly selective programs/colleges (i.e. UCSB's College of Creative students and most computer science and biology degrees at all campuses). I do not recommend students try to game the system by choosing a major they are not truly interested in.
RIGOR OF SCHEDULE/SELECTIVITY:
Campuses look at the number of Honors, AP, and IB courses taken. They will only review students in the context of their own high school. Keep in mind that the University of CA serves students across the entire state, and its goal is to provide opportunities for students at every school. That means that students are, in essence, being compared to their classmates. The more competitive the public high school (high schools with large numbers of high achieving students) the more difficult it is for the UC to offer spots to all qualified students at that high school.
It looks to be the most competitive year for UC campuses.
Last month, the UCs released detailed enrollment data for last year's high school seniors, the class of 2021. Many high schools saw significant jumps in average admitted GPA to UC campuses that were typically more attainable.
Take University High School in Irvine for example:
Average Admitted GPAs:
UC Santa Cruz: 4.09 (2021) vs. 3.91 (2020)
UC Riverside: 4.03 (2021) vs. 3.9 (2020)
From what I have seen so far with UC decisions, I suspect the average admitted GPA to be even higher for this year's seniors across all campuses, but unfortunately, we most likely won't have that data until early 2023 after next years seniors apply.
I just had a IB diploma student with a 4.7 GPA get waitlisted at UC Santa Cruz. I was shocked. Granted, they probably thought she wouldn't go, waitlisting her only to see if she would opt in. Since she already has great options with strong merit scholarships, she probably won't choose UC Santa Cruz. But I don't recall UC campuses playing these enrollment games in the past.
1. If you have a kid applying to the UCs next fall, make sure they apply broadly, meaning they should apply to as many campuses as they will realistically consider. The UCs do not talk to one another, so applying to one campus does not affect your kid's chances at another campus.
2. Make sure they apply to several favorable schools outside of the UC system.
3. If your kid really has their heart set on a UC campus and doesn't get in, think about doing the TAG (Transfer Admissions Guarantee) at your local CA community campus.
MARCH 2022 University of CA Counselor Bulletin
"Systemwide applications climb to highest number ever in UC's 154-year history
The University of California recently announced that its campuses received a record-breaking number of applications for fall 2022, underscoring UC’s position as one of the most sought-after higher education systems in the world.
“The University of California remains an institution of choice for so many hardworking prospective undergraduates,” said President Michael V. Drake, M.D. “This diverse group of students has shown their commitment to pursuing higher education and we are thrilled they want to join us at UC.”
Systemwide freshman applications rose 3.5 percent, including a 3.3 percent growth for California freshman applicants. The university also saw an increase in the socioeconomic diversity of its California applicant pool for fall 2022. Systemwide, the proportion of California freshman applicants and California Community College (CCC) transfer applicants from low-income families grew to 46 percent and 56 percent respectively for the 2022 application period.
Community college enrollment declined nationally for fall 2021 due to the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This trend was especially true for CCCs, where enrollment declined by roughly 15 percent for fall 2020. That dramatic drop decreased the available pipeline of students applying to transfer to UC from CCCs for fall 2022. Systemwide, transfer applications decreased 12.6 percent. “UC is aware of the decrease in transfer applications and California Community College students across the system and is working to ensure that this critical group is supported in their efforts to apply at our campuses,” said Han Mi Yoon-Wu, executive director of Undergraduate Admissions at UC. “We are committed to having a strong and diverse pipeline of students.”
Chicano/Latino students comprised the largest ethnic group of the pool of California freshman applicants (38.1 percent) for the third year in a row, a 4.1 percent increase over the past year. Similarly, Chicano/Latino students comprised the largest ethnic group of the pool of CCC applicants (31.8 percent) for the fifth year in a row. In addition, important gains were made in systemwide freshman applications for fall 2022 from American Indian students (32.8 percent increase over the past year), African American students (2.8 percent increase over the past year) and Asian American students (5.8 percent increase over the past year).
Additional details about the fall 2022 applicants to the university can be found here, along with preliminary campus-by-campus breakdowns."
The University of CA released its Admission by Source School data for the class of 2021 (last year's seniors). This is an interactive chart that allows users to look up admissions stats for individual high school students applying to specific UC campuses. You can pull data such as the average GPA of students admitted, percentage of each gender admitted and a breakdown of admitted students by ethnicity. For some high schools, the average GPAs across the board went up significantly while with others it said the same. Click HERE to check it out.
In 2017 the University of California shifted from the traditional personal statement--a more creative essay meant to showcase an applicant's personality, writing abilities, and creativity--to the Personal Insight Questions, commonly referred to as the PIQs.
For the past five years, I have attended the UC Counselors Conference session on the PIQs, and the message has remained consistent: these PIQs are not meant to be a personal statement. They are meant to be questions the applicant answers directly, as if they were being asked these questions in an interview.
Below are some tips on how to approach the PIQs and some myths dispelled: