- Swati Chopra
Decisions for Class of 2022
Numbers, numbers, and more numbers
It's been a tough couple of weeks for many seniors. I've been trying to figure out what to write in my blog for the past 10 days. Do I explain the numbers? Or do I help kids move forward? Are families looking for some sense of reason, or would it help to explain waitlists? Amidst all the uncertainty, all we can do is move forward cognizant of the shifting landscape and be deliberate in the way we approach college admissions early on.
It's easy to look at the admission results this year and compare them to last year (Admitted, Decisions for Class of 2021) but it's also not as simple as one might think.
Yes, it seems many more students are being placed on waitlists this year and yes, Computer Science, Biology, and Psychology were (again) the three most sought-after majors for incoming freshmen. But no, every student didn't get denied at a favorite UC campus and no, the UCs didn't take more out of state students over CA students this year.
The numbers are staggering, and in some ways it just comes down to simple math. The University of California campuses have consistently broken records when it comes to the number of applications they receive. The number of freshmen that each campus can admit hasn't changed much and so we're seeing admit rates fall drastically at the majority of these campuses. It's a wonder because so many other universities are seeing a decline in enrollment and some are closing shop altogether in this post-pandemic era. While our kids are lucky to have some of the best public universities in our backyard, its definitely not easy to gain admission at these prestigious institutions. Here are the latest numbers for those of you who crave data. Once again, UCLA was the most sought-after university in the country, topping 149,779 freshmen applications.
Total Applications Fall of 2022
Total Applications Fall of 2021
Total Admitted 2021
Admitted CA students 2021
UC San Diego
UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Cruz
(* Number approximate for now while I try to find exact numbers)
Most of the UC campuses have a freshman class of between 6,000 and 9,000 students. The historic yield rate helps them calculate how many admitted students will enroll. For example, UCLA admits only around 15,000 students because their yield rate is close to 45% and they expect to hit their enrollment goals even with such a low admit number. Merced, on the other hand, has many students applying but not many enrolling, so they tend to admit three to four times the students in the hopes of reaching their enrollment goals.
Below are some numbers to help put things in perspective; it also helps to understand how our public school system stacks against other equally highly selective public schools in the nation.
University of VA takes 70% in state applicants - 50,962 applications were received and 9,522 students were admitted
50,601 students applied to Georgia Tech. Of those applicants, 17% were offered admission, their aim is to enroll 3,575 students. University of GA received 39,615 applications and admitted 16,600 students (80% in state)
U of Michigan received more than 84,000 applications, they haven't released data on their admit number.
U of Illinois Urbana Champaign received 63,000 applications and their expected class size is 7,703. Admit information is not available at this time.
U of North Carolina Chapel Hill (82% in state), received 57,198 applications and their expected class size is 4,400.
Numbers don't lie. The UCs receive thousands of more applications than some of these equally impressive universities and even though they take close to 80% in state students, there are just too many strong, highly qualified CA students graduating every year.
The house that COVID built
A lot of this is due to SAT/ACT tests moving to the wayside. The student whose GPA is nowhere close to X university's freshman class profile now feels they still have a chance to get in without test scores bringing them down. On the flip side, the discontinued use of SATs has also given students from certain communities a boost and a leg up; tests can be a financial burden and by taking that out of the equation, students are able to apply to very highly selective schools, something that wasn’t possible before COVID. Because of this, students are probably applying to many more reach schools than they normally would. Certain kids are put on the waitlist because they're strong enough and colleges want to keep them close, but these same colleges believe these kids probably won't be enrolling (maybe due to a financial aid gap, or because of other choices). Because so many kids this year got waitlisted, there will be a fresh class of seniors who will also apply to many more schools next year in fear of being denied or waitlisted everywhere. And the cycle continues...
Before the pandemic, it might have seemed like college admissions were reward-based. You did well and you got your choice of colleges. Honestly, that was never the case and now that is more evident than ever. We never really know what the institutional priorities are and they change year to year. When you see someone getting into your top choice where you’ve been denied, it’s hard not to compare yourself with them. That usually doesn't get you anywhere because no one knows what the other student has to offer or how strong their application was or what even was in their application. It helps to remember that colleges want to create a diverse freshman class. That means they're looking for something unique, not more of the same. Would you want the same kids in college you had at your high school? As one of my seniors said a few weeks ago, “I don't want to choose XYZ University anymore, it just feels like ABC High 2.0.”
Controlling what you can and accepting what you can't
In the college admission process, there are many things that are in the student's control — GPA, classes, rigor, extracurricular activities, essays, and having a good, solid college list that is well-balanced. My advice to the next batch of students as they move into senior year would be to pay attention to their college list. Spend the better part of summer making sure the colleges you are applying to are truly a good fit for you. It's time we help our kids look outside of their comfort zone and make sure we are not leaving any stone unturned. For instance, if you're interested in Computer Science and want to stay in state, then open your heart to some of the lesser known Cal States. Tour them and get to know them; you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
It's time we understand that there are many more colleges out there than the ones everyone is talking about. The college experience is more about the student than the college itself. Of course, it’s easy to get excited about universities that are highly ranked and popular but the more research you do, the more information you’ll have and that in turn will make you feel confident and comfortable about the choices that are in front of you.
Class of 2023: If you’re interested in getting more information on senior year, please reach out to me before finals. Let’s get you the information you need sooner rather than later to make informed decisions.
Class of 2024: Make the best use of your time and stay active during the summer months. If you’re interested in learning more about the Junior Jumpstart Comprehensive Package, reach out to me over the summer and let’s get you off on the right foot.
Class of 2025 and beyond: Keep an eye out for my ‘4 Years to College: Understanding the High School Years’ webinar. I’ll be sending out information in the coming days for this annual free webinar I host to help 8th and 9th grade students and families navigate the high school years.