A Rough Year for UC Berkeley Admissions

Seeking to expand enrollment amidst the pandemic and a lawsuit, it has been a rocky year for the University of California Berkeley.

With 14,600 new students admitted this fall, the University’s enrollment has narrowed considerably from about 16,400 students in 2021. The percentage of students accepting admission into the school is still undetermined, but it is projected to be high. This first-year class is comparable to prior classes in terms of academic excellence and diversity, which are among UC Berkeley’s top priorities.

University and Public Response

Berkeley News’ Janet Gilmore reports that the drop in admissions is intended to balance the surplus in admissions in fall 2021. More freshman and transfers accepted admissions offers in 2021 than anticipated by the university, coupled with the large number of students returning to studies after taking a pandemic gap year.

Reducing admissions by 14% this year will balance the total student body for which the Berkeley facilities are intended. Josephine Sulayao of Cardinal Education, a Bay Area admissions consulting company, says lowered admissions means applicants have more responsibility than ever to prove themselves.

“From the perspective of the administration of UC Berkeley, their decision to enroll 2,000 fewer students this year is reasonable because they need to balance their capacity in terms of teaching staff and logistics,” says Sulayao. “This means that the admissions process will be more competitive and applicants have to be more creative in finding ways to differentiate themselves and stand out from the rest of the rest to actually be considered for admission.”

The Lawsuit

Admissions were nearly reduced further by an estimated 3,050 students when the Supreme Court of California mandated to decrease enrollment to early pandemic levels earlier this year. This resulted from a lawsuit against the university from a group called Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods. They believe plans to expand UC Berkeley enrollment before adequate facilities were built would be disastrous for students and the community.

This legislation would have cost the university an estimated $57 million in lost tuition, making the acceptance process nearly impossible for thousands. After Cal appealed the ruling, Gov. Gavin Newsom enacted legislation allowing UC Berkeley to continue with its original plan for admission and enrollment. UC Berkeley’s public statement maintains that this situation did not affect their decreased admissions this year.

Beverly Gearreald of Transizion, a college prep company, believes the disapproval of UC Berkeley’s expansion affected 2022 admissions. She sees it as a larger ploy by the state and alums to give an advantage to in-state students.

“When UC Berkley released plans to expand enrollment, many deep-pocketed alumni who remained nearby protested the expansion, and the Supreme Court of California ruled against UC Berkeley,’ says Gearreald. “This trend is becoming increasingly common throughout state schools: once they achieve a certain amount of recognition, the state works hard to keep that resource to itself. Given that state taxes fund state schools, it is understandable that parents would want their sons and daughters to be given preferential treatment when applying.”

The Data Looks Promising

Despite lowering admissions this year in adjusting to pandemic shockwaves and dodging an enrollment cap posed by unhappy residents, UC Berkeley is still on track to expand. Two thousand students sound like a lot to lose, but if you analyze enrollment and tuition fees over the past decade, it becomes a slight hiccup in the bigger picture. Enrollment data from the University of California site and tuition history from the UC Berkeley registrar suggest the school is not simply surviving but thriving.

In 2011 freshmen undergraduate admissions were at 11,452, increasing steadily with slight setbacks. They took a small decline in 2012 to 11,108 admits, only to shoot up to 13,975 by 2016. From that perspective, 14,600 new undergraduates this Fall does not sound like a loss.

The pandemic may have stalled the gradual incline, but it is still climbing on average. Tuition data from the same period positively correlates with admissions data. New undergraduate non-resident tuition has increased almost 30% from 2011-2021, from about $18 thousand to $24 thousand a term.

Climbing too, is the UC’s diversity of student admits. From 2011-2021, African American freshmen admitted more than doubled from 354 to 850 students. Hispanic/Latino admissions increased from 1,399 to 3,595 students, and Asian admissions grew from 4,500 to 6,113.

So, in short, UC Berkeley has not been without issues post-pandemic, but things are not nearly as dire as some media report. It’s reasonable to assume California’s education behemoth will continue growing steadily in years to come.

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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.