UC admits record number of transfers; UC Berkeley numbers fall

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The UC system admitted a record number of transfer students for the 2018-19 academic year — the number admitted at UC Berkeley, however, decreased.

UC Berkeley’s transfer admits dropped 5.4 percent from 4,752 admits in 2017 to 4,495 in 2018, according to data from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in August 2018. Overall admission dropped 11.2 percent from 20,319 to 18,053. The campus admitted fewer students to hit lower enrollment targets in 2018. According to an email from campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, transfer and freshman enrollment exceeded admission targets by more than 100 students each in 2017.

“This year, the campus planned a slight reduction in the number of new undergraduates, to bring its overall enrollment more in line with campus resources available to support such rapid growth,” Gilmore said in her email.

Most of the 28,750 transfer students offered a spot at a UC campus came from California community colleges. Admission of California community college transfer students increased by an average of 8 percent across all campuses, in keeping with the UC system’s goal of enrolling one transfer student per two freshmen.

“After reviewing yet another record-breaking number of applications, our campuses have offered admission to an exceptionally talented group of students for the upcoming academic year,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a press release.

This one-to-two ratio was established by a 2015-16 budget framework developed by the university and Gov. Jerry Brown. The university also recently announced a plan to guarantee transfers admission to a UC campus for those who achieve the requisite GPA and complete one of 21 “pathways,” or prerequisite classes for the most popular UC majors. These guarantees will be in place for students beginning community college in fall 2019, according to an email from UCOP spokesperson Danielle Smith.

UC Berkeley has faced criticism in recent years for enrolling more students than it is allegedly equipped to accommodate. In 2017, the year the campus overenrolled, a lack of sufficient student housing led the campus to convert residence hall lounges into temporary quads.

“A lot of the other schools I applied to had specific buildings for transfers to live in together on campus,” campus junior transfer student Leonie Gray said. “That’s something I really wish we had here.”

According to Gilmore’s email, UC Berkeley also admits fewer transfers than other campuses do because of its high yield rate — the percentage of students who enroll in a school after being admitted — and the large number of applications it receives.

“Among UC campuses, Berkeley has the highest yield rates,” Gilmore said in the email. “If we admit too many, we may exceed our enrollment targets.”

While overall campus admission of transfers decreased, the number of low-income transfer students admitted increased, as did the number of those who are first-generation college students. Universitywide, the proportion of transfer students admitted from historically underrepresented groups increased to 38 percent, according to a UCOP press release.

“Some transfer students are parents, some are re-entering education — we are of different ages and backgrounds,” campus junior transfer student Janéy Lopez said. “We bring so many stories and so much diversity to campus.”

Steven Nguyen, an academic counselor at the campus Transfer Student Center, said in an email that it is important to increase resources available to transfers, as transfer students will constitute 33 percent of the student body in coming years.

“The Transfer Center is constantly packed with students, with no seats available, and we do not have enough space to fit everyone during our events,” Nguyen said in his email. “I think it’s important that the campus starts focusing its effort more on transfer students because this will be the new norm.”

Lopez said that while she has not personally utilized campus resources available to students, she believes the campus offers as much support as possible to transfer students. In terms of admitting more transfer students in the first place, she sees it as a responsibility shared by both community colleges and four-year universities.

“I think, as community college students, it’s discouraging when you see all these people around you succeeding faster than you,” Lopez said. “I think increasing transfer enrollment falls on both UCs encouraging people to apply and community colleges pushing people to transfer and the students taking the initiative and putting in the effort.”

Contact Olivia Nouriani at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @olivianouriani.