Campus Acceptance Rate Drops to Record Low

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UC Berkeley admitted only 21.5 percent of freshmen applicants for the 2008-09 school year, the lowest acceptance rate in campus history, officials announced yesterday.

Of the record-high 48,418 high school seniors who applied, the campus offered admission to 10,388 for the fall semester, according to admissions data. Additionally, it admitted more than 2,000 for the spring term.

"We have an incredibly wonderful new group of freshman applicants," said Susie Castillo-Robson, the campus' associate vice chancellor of admissions and enrollment. "The (admissions) process itself was actually the smoothest we've ever had for 10 years. The challenge is in that the quality of the student pool was so robust."

This fall's freshman admit class averaged 2034 on the SAT, up from 2029 for fall 2007, said Evera Spears, associate director of undergraduate admissions. Its average GPA matches last year's class at 3.87.

Meanwhile, underrepresented minority students comprise 16 percent of UC Berkeley's admitted freshmen, remaining relatively constant from last year. Across the overall UC system, the number of admitted minorities from California increased nearly 15 percent.

This admissions cycle was particularly difficult for UC, which handled applications from the largest high school graduating class in national history while facing an estimated $16 billion state budget deficit.

Despite these challenges, every eligible member of the record-high 121,005 undergraduate applicant class of 2008 was offered admission into the university, according to the data.

Competition stiffened as a result, said Susan Wilbur, director of undergraduate admissions for the UC system, with UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara facing some of their lowest admittance rates ever.

Wilbur cautioned that eligible students may not be guaranteed admission into the university for the 2009-10 school year.

"Looking beyond 2008, enrolling additional students without additional state funding is not sustainable in the long run," she said. "Without additional funding for future students, we are very concerned about our ability to replicate what happened this year."

As for UC Berkeley, Castillo-Robson said it is too early for the campus to make enrollment projections for the 2009-10 school year. However, she added that officials do not plan to increase the number of seats in the freshman class.

Ezekiel Golvin, an 18-year-old high school senior from Los Angeles, said he is debating whether to attend UC Berkeley, UCLA or the University of Chicago. Though he holds a long list of accomplishments-including a 4.0 GPA and 10 Advanced Placement classes-he was turned down by Harvard University, Yale University and Princeton University, all of which also announced record-low acceptance rates this year.

"This year all the schools have record-breaking applicants for spots," said Golvin, who plans to study math or economics. "I've been pretty nervous-kept my head down, worked hard, tried not to think about it."

Accepted students were notified in late March and have until May 1 to indicate whether they will attend UC Berkeley. Jamie Hamersmith, 17, of Santa Monica, Calif., said she is examining the campus' psychology program, in addition to several other colleges.

Above all, she said, she is looking forward to sending her letter of intent.

"It's a really big relief when it's done," she said.


Stephanie M. Lee covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]

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