UC Berkeley experiences drop in freshman, transfer applicants for 1st time in a decade

Bar graphs showing UC applicant numbers among Freshmen and Transfers in 2017, 2018, and 2019
Ariel Lung/Staff

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For the first time in more than a decade, UC Berkeley experienced a decrease in both freshman and transfer applicants for the 2019-20 academic year.

Overall, the UC system has seen a 3 percent decrease in applicants to the nine undergraduate campuses. UC Berkeley’s 2019 freshman applicant pool dropped by 2.5 percent to total about 87,000 students, while the number of transfer students applying to UC Berkeley also decreased slightly from 19,199 to 19,063. Currently, the reason behind this decrease is unclear, according to UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

“UC Berkeley has consistently received a record high number of applications,” Gilmore said in an email. “We continue to have a high number of applications for fall 2019, but it is not record-breaking. It is fewer than last year’s number.”

According to Gilmore, this year has seen a decline in freshman applicants across different demographics, both in terms of ethnicity and in the number of California residents and nonresidents. Gilmore added in an email, however, that the “proportion of California freshmen by ethnic group, is largely the same.”

This year, 28 percent of UC Berkeley applicants are Chicanx/Latinx, compared to 27 percent in 2018. The number of Native American applicants, though already small, has steadily dwindled to less than 1 percent in the past few years. In 2017, there were 273 Native American applicants, 258 in 2018 and 234 this year, according to a report released by the UC Office of the President.

Until last year, the UC system had seen continuous growth in the number of Black applicants. Since 2017, they have composed about 6 percent of the applicant pool. The number of Asian American applicants had also increased until 2018, making up 31 percent of this year’s UC applicants.

“(UC Berkeley) is known for being super diverse,” said campus junior Zuha Aslam. “If there are more ethnicities, there are more backgrounds, there are more stories and more perspectives.”

Though the UC system as a whole has experienced little variance in out-of-state and international applicants, the number of nonresident students in both groups also decreased by about 1,000 this year.

Last year, there were 33,467 out-of-state applicants, in comparison to 32,895 this year. Similarly, this year, the UC system received 27,773 international applicants, whereas last year, 28,543 international students applied.

This year’s applicants are academically strong with an average weighted GPA of 4.13, an average SAT score of 1347 and an average ACT score of 29.

“We are pleased to see that the academic strength of this year’s freshman applicant pool, in terms of test scores and GPA, remains strong and comparable to the strength of applicant pools from the last few years,” Gilmore said in the email.

Mallika Seshadri is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.