UC President Mark Yudof

In an attempt to raise more funds during an era of unprecedented cutbacks, the UC system is planning on admitting more students from out of state than ever before, since those students have to pay a higher tuition. That means fewer in-state students will be admitted to their first-choice campuses.

To soften the rejection letters that will go out soon, UC President Mark Yudof on Thursday sent out an email to the system’s applicants telling them that they may be hearing from campuses to which they haven’t even applied.

If a senior has applied to UC Berkeley or UCLA, Yudof noted, they may get some information from UC Riverside about a particular program, even though they never applied to Riverside.

“While your application is being reviewed by the campuses you have applied to, other campuses within the UC system will be looking at your record, too,” wrote Yudof . “They may get in touch with you directly to tell you about degree programs they offer that could be a good fit, given the interests and talents you described in your application.”

“Don’t worry – this does not mean that you are not being considered by the UC campuses you chose. We just want to make sure that if we see an additional opportunity for you at another UC campus, you know about it and can make an informed decision about all of your UC options. “

The hope, apparently, is to steer some of the students who may have at one time gotten into UC Berkeley or other hyper-competitive campuses but who will be rejected this year, to another campus.

It’s growing tougher every year to get into the most popular UCs: Berkeley and Los Angeles.

This year, a record number of students – 50,000 — applied for admission to Cal, according to an email sent to applicants by Walter Robinson, the director of admissions. That is up by almost 2,000 applicants from last year. UC Berkeley admits around 4,000 freshman each year. A total of 99,845 applications were submitted system-wide.

About 2,244 of those who applied to UC Berkeley were African-American, an increase of 9.6% percent from last year. UC Berkeley hired Gibor Basri in 2007 as the first Vice Chancellor for Equality and Inclusion  to create new initiatives to attract students of color to the school, and this is one of the first indications his efforts may be succeeding. The number of American Indian, Asian-American, and Latino students is also up. All together, minority applicants make up 26.4% percent of the applicant pool, up 1.2% over last year.

The quality of the applicants keeps rising each year. This year, the mean grade point average of a freshman applicant to UC Berkeley is 3.85. That means if you get a C in even one course, forget about going to Cal. The mean SAT score for the applicants is 1841.

Many of the applicants to UC Berkeley would be the first in their families to attend college. Almost 35% of the applicants fit into the category and it rises for the other UC campuses.

For the first time, UC Berkeley may also adopt a wait list for its freshman class, according to the Dailt Californian.

If you want to see these and numerous other statistics, the Office of the President has put out lots of detailed information

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

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  1. So we Californians pay taxes to support over-paid football coaches, chancellors and professors. Then out-of-state and foreign students pay extra to move into the front of the line. How about if we start a proposition to correct this!

  2. The higher quality student is the girl. She is able to balance a social life and still perform well at “work”. In this case school. She will make as good a student and a better employee.

  3. As an incoming high school senior that is a far from perfect SAT whoever that GPA is truly truly remarkable, I scored 1980 on the SAT and 32 on the ACT yet only have a weighted GPA of 4.2

  4. I have a 4.2 + GPA and climbing, tons of ECs, will make sure to do well on my SAT/ SAT II’s, and I KNOW that I’m the kind of person who’d fit in well at Berkeley. However, I got a C first semester of Calc and an A the second.

    “That means if you get a C in even one course, forget about going to Cal.”

    ^That sentence is stupid and rude, and probably freaked out a bunch of people, including myself. 

  5. That is a perfect SAT and GPA. I would not have been surprised, there are tons of other kids who do not do that well

  6. Calif Senator Mark DsSaulnier refutes the statistics in a Contra Costa Times (krupnick) that demonstrate that Latino enrollment 2010 UC Berkeley is down and recruits from outside Calif jumped. Senator says decline is 0.4% so no need for him to take action on behalf of Hispanics at UC and UC Berkeley. Senator supports the recruitment of non Califorians as it will meet UC Berkeley diversity goals Senator contacts 916 651 4007 925 8942 6082

  7. Pathetic. The UCs don’t manage their endowments properly and now they have to give less priority to student whose parents pay for the UC system to exist via taxes. I’m glad I go to private school– go BYU. Berkeley will definitely not be one of my first choices for law school.

  8. UC President Yudof’s UCB Chancellor Birgeneau Loss of Credibility, Trust
    The UCB budget gap has grown to $150 million, and still the Chancellor is spending money that isn’t there on expensive outside consultants. His reasons range from the need for impartiality to requiring the “innovative thinking, expertise, and new knowledge” the consultants would bring.

    Does this mean that the faculty and management of a world-class research and teaching institution lack the knowledge, impartiality, innovation, and professionalism to come up with solutions? Have they been fudging their research for years? The consultants will glean their recommendations from interviewing faculty and the UCB management that hired them; yet solutions could be found internally if the Chancellor were doing the job HE was hired to do. Consultant fees would be far better spent on meeting the needs of students.

    There can be only one conclusion as to why creative solutions have not been forthcoming from the professionals within UCB: Chancellor Birgeneau has lost credibility and the trust of the faculty as well as of the Academic Senate leadership that represents them. Even if the faculty agrees with the consultants’ recommendations – disagreeing might put their jobs in jeopardy – the underlying problem of lost credibility and trust will remain.

  9. Ok my daughter, we live in a small California town, just got accepted to UC Berkeley. She will be one of 3 valedictorians in our small high school of 250 seniors. She didn’t do all that great on her SAT, high 1700 and was amazed that Berkeley accepted her. But she wrote a great essay, has a GPA of 4.6, is a well rounded student and her high school is an ELC. So what I am getting at is that one must take all kinds of things into consideration and don’t think you can’t get in just because you didn’t get a perfect SAT. Berkeley like Stanford is looking for the uniqueness in a student, not perfection.

  10. I am sad that the taxes we pay won’t be used for “our” children. That even though the quality of in state applicants is on the rise, that they will be taking less of “our” kids in favor of out-of-state students who will pay more.

    Our children will have the opportunity to get into jail, but not college.

    Oh yes, and the other UCs all saw their applicant pool reduced by significant numbers by the regents this year, so kids who think “ok, I’ll still get into Davis, or Santa Cruz, or somewhere else wonderful” not so fast cowgirl. There are more of you, less spots available and funds have been cut to state schools and community colleges.

    Thank you for being an honor student, please remember to ask if they can super size those fries 🙂

  11. Thanks, Ms. Burke. Others might be also be interested in more information about what you are talking about. I found this:


    Which is the UC Office of the President’s guide to the curriculum requirements and course submission process.

    Looking over these materials I am left thinking that while BHS’ participation in the process may be flawed, the essential flaw lies in the system itself.

    The UC “model curriculum” and course approval process appears to be a relatively new thing. Unless I am misreading it started in 2006 as a result of California Education code 66205.5

    It appears to me, maybe I’ve missed something, that participation by high schools in the course approval process is *not* mandatory and is *not* funded. School’s activity of participating in the approval process isn’t funded. No funds are provided for school’s to alter their course offerings to satisfy these UC and Cal State “requirements”.

    Worse, participation seems to be all downside. Any flaw in participation, whether it is the high school’s fault or the UC systems’s fault, can easily penalize applicants from that high school.

    Worse, course approval is based on curriculum design statements and textbook lists (and similar) rather than by any evaluation of teaching quality or student outcome. Thus, if school A and school B both offer an approved science course, they may nevertheless differ wildly in how challenging it is to students and how much students actually learn. Using these course registrations to identify California’s “top students” is absurd on the face of it.

    Hard data seems hard to come by but the indications on the UCOP website linked above are that *not* all high schools are successfully participating. UCOP acknowledges inaccuracies in their database and repeated *requests* that schools help to make corrections while waiving the stick of “we will otherwise penalize your students during admissions”.

    Somehow, strangely, the UC and Cal State systems are able to evaluate out of state applications without this data.

    The registration process exists solely because its creation was mandated by (recent) state law. To the extent which it is treated as a requirement on high school’s, it is a ceding of control over high school education from the locales and the state school board to the regents. The system is not justified by any scholarly evidence that it improves education or helps to select the most qualified applicants. In short, it seems like a bad joke.

    Perhaps the best solution would be BHS to organize with some other high schools in California and “go on strike” by refusing to participate in the system until and unless its flaws can be corrected. UC and Cal State would not then be entitled to discriminate against students from those schools. A dialog for unwinding this fairly recent piece of legislation might then begin.

  12. UC requires all high schools in California to offer courses that fulfill UC a-g requirements. These courses are designated ‘P’ courses. The more ‘P’ courses a student completes, the more competitive the student in the application process. Taking as many ‘P’ courses as possible increases the chances of students landing a spot at a UC campus. It’s a non-issue for students whose parents can afford private colleges.

    UC is required to accept the top 12.5% of all California high school students. CSUs accept the next 33% and the community colleges accept the remainder of high school graduates. Community college students have a transfer route to UC as a junior so it ultimately doesn’t matter for many students if they go to UC as a freshman or as a community college transfer.

    Currently students who have a 3.2 gpa make the cut into the top 12.5% of California high school students who are eligible for UC admission. UC needs a way to evaluate those students. Ensuring that they’ve taken the prerequisites that will help them succeed in college-level work is one way UC assesses student qualifications.

    BHS has had more difficulty submitting courses for UC approval than any other high school in California, according to UCOP. It’s a basic function, like so many, that BHS is unable to accomplish.

    The BHS course catalog continues to list courses as ‘P’ that are not included on the UC approved course list. At the very least someone from BHS should be able to cross-check their course listings against the UC approved list of courses for California high schools and then correct the high school course descriptions. Thousands of families rely on the high school’s course catalog for reliable information and they’re not getting it. This failure of BHS to ensure UC approval for courses they offer also flies in the face of their stated goal of making every student college eligible.

  13. Maureen, I believe that paperwork is important too – up to a point.

    Here is what perplexes me about what you are describing:

    1) Why in h-e-double-toothpicks is UC imposing bureaucratic requirements on BHS? This makes no logical sense to me. I don’t mind informal liaison between UC and BHS faculty just as I wouldn’t mind informal liaison between, say, BHS and Carnegie Mellon University (who also have very a very fine arts program) – but I would think it ridiculous of Carnegie Mellon or any other university started demanding that kind of paperwork from BHS as a condition of admission for their students. Did the UC Regents somehow wind up partially sovereign over CA high schools? Do we really want that? Is the problem really BHS’ problem? Or UC’s?

    2) As you say, UC needs some ways to compare applicants. But what is the scholarly basis for your P fetish, so to speak? Is it really necessary or even accurate to denigrate certain hypothesized 4.0 students as having taken only “mickey mouse” courses? Your approach here seems at least on the surface to be absurdly reductionist.

  14. Well, BHS has failed to submit courses for UC approval. This is a basic administrative task that no other high school has problems with. Sometimes they submit nothing and sometimes they don’t follow the instructions. I had to file a public records act request to find out what actually happened in the case of numerous courses. Here’s an example–digital photo was designated in the BHS course catalog as a ‘P’ course that fulfilled the UC visual arts requirement. Turns out this course was never even submitted to UC for approval. My son was a freshman when he took that course, so it wasn’t a big deal for him. It was a very big deal for the seniors in that class who needed to fulfill that requirement in order to maintain eligibility for UC admission. What did BHS do to fix it? Change everybody’s transcripts to indicate they took photo class. This is not the best way to address this administrative ineptitude and probably illegal. This happened to an entire spectrum of classes. UC was not at fault here, and as an alumni I’m not a huge UC fan.

    I believe paperwork is important. I also believe acquisition of knowledge is important. They are not mutually exclusive. As a huge institution, UC has to have a way to compare the relative merits of high school students. They need to be able to compare a kid with a 4.0 who took mickey mouse courses to a kid with a 2.5 who took academically rigorous courses. Looking at the number of ‘P’ courses a kid takes makes this comparison possible.

  15. I don’t mean to be a pill, Ms. Burke, but can (would) you elaborate a bit please on this issue? From the article you pointed at it is unclear to me whether this is an issue of BHS doing something boneheaded, or UCB doing something boneheaded in how it recognizes credits, or a parental expectation boneheadedness. Also, where in this are we paying primary attention to, you know, what the kids are learning as contrasted with concern over what their paperwork says? Seriously, I don’t mean this antagonistically towards you. Like the famous movie quote “the whole system is out of order”. Let’s debug the system holistically, no? Meanwhile, please do clarify what you think BHS is doing wrong in this aspect of the problems.

  16. whoops–the link doesn’t work. You can go to the Daily Cal website and search for “High School Incorrectly Listed College Prep.”
    Sorry about that.

  17. The profile of the applicant pool is different from the profile of the freshman class, which has significantly lower gpa’s and test scores. Most campuses give a lot of preference for students who have a work history or have special family situations or a demonstrated deep interest in some area. I know a lot of students who have been accepted to UC Berkeley with more than one C grade.

    The number of a-g courses a student takes is the #3 criteria UC uses for admission purposes, yet this is yet another thing Berkeley High has flubbed. Berkeley High has failed for years to submit their courses to UC so students will meet admission requirements. This puts all students at a huge disadvantage to their peers. This issue was covered here: http://www.dailycal.org/article/2577/high_school_incorrectly_listed_college_prep

    More than two years later, parents found out Berkeley High hadn’t done anything to solve the problem as they were helping kids apply to UC. Classes listed as college prep on transcripts were not designated that way on the UC online application. What did Berkeley High do? Suggest that students use the write-in section to add classes. Unfortunately, UC does not count write-in classes as college prep. They must be on the UC approved course list. I encourage all Berkeley High parents to go to the UC Doorways website and check to see if their childrens’ classes are actually approved by UC.

  18. I completely agree with you that scores and grades are not the best way to determine a kid’s worth and involvement in life. I should have written that the scores and grades of incoming students at UC Berkeley are higher this year than last, not that the quality of the students are better.

  19. Frances, you ask: “I don’t understand what you are saying. Please restate. I did not offer any comparison to previous years, but the GPA and mean SAT scores have gone up every year.”

    The HS GPSs and SAT scores keep going up – I take your word for it.

    What bugs me is the equivocation of those measures with “the quality of students”. My objection is slightly to you, for making that equivocation, and much more against Cal to the extent which they put that equivocation into practice.

    Suppose we have two students before us. One has remarkably high GPA and SAT scores, always prepares for every test. She can write a real heart-rending application essay describing she spent working for the NPO as part of her parent-endorsed strategy for getting into a top tier school. In her spare time she read several of the Right Books but mostly watched a lot of TV and hung out with friends gossiping, occasionally getting drunk. The other student got 1 C each year in HS, for various reasons. For pocket money he worked as a bagger at the local grocery. For altruism, he often helped the all-but-abandoned old lady next door by shoveling the snow on her sidewalk (and listening to her half coherent rambling). Bored with the physics curriculum at school he taught himself special relativity and spent his downtime listening to old Iggy Pop and David Bowie recordings. He’s eager to gain access to modern machine shop because he’s been reading everything he can find about the latest computer controlled equipment. His admission essay displays basic competence in English Composition but a huge naivite about how to stand out from the crowd. Let’s stipulate that both are about as likely as one another to graduate successfully from a program with the rigors of Cal. Also, he had a s-ty day when he took the SATs and, although scoring in a high percentile, is decently below her performance.

    Which is the higher “quality” student?

    Personally, my answer is: “Beats me! Anyone who claims to know is probably making stuff up!”

    The admission requirements for a place like Cal should be aimed at ensuring a decent chance of successfully graduating – and nothing more. Just a baseline. You can throw in some subjective requirements designed to measure sincere and specific interest in going to Cal, independent of test scores. Baseline ability (which really ought not be climbing so much, every year) plus motivation – that’s about as high as the “quality” meter ought to go. Really.

    After that, admissions should be pure lottery.

    Regardless of how Cal *should* do admissions – I object to equivocating what they *actually* do with rising “quality” of students.

    This whole notion that if kids get a C, for whatever reason, or don’t occupy the top place on SATs — that this makes them “unworthy” of Cal or likely to make less desirable as potential Cal students — is damaging. Just look at the science lab debate about BHS and how often and how people refer to Cal’s admission practices.

  20. In this paragraph: “The quality of the applicants keeps rising each year. This year, the mean grade point average of a freshman applicant to UC Berkeley is 3.85. That means if you get a C in even one course, forget about going to Cal. The mean SAT score for the applicants is 1841.”:

    The second two sentences are not implied (“this means”) by the first sentence, for any sane definition of “quality”.

  21. While this is very sobering and disappointing news, I just want to say that UC campuses other than Cal are great places. UC Riverside is a wonderful school of which I’m a proud graduate.