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New System Has UCLA, Berkeley Scrambling to Fill Up for Fall Term

Times Education Writer

The most popular of the University of California campuses--Berkeley and UCLA--have admitted too few students for the fall term under a new admissions system implemented by UC this year.

While the two prestigious campuses are scrambling to fill their classes with hundreds more students, some of the smaller UC campuses have admitted far too many students and are trying to figure out what to do with the overload.

According to preliminary figures from the campuses, Berkeley is now about about 500 short of the nearly 3,900 freshmen it had expected for the fall. UCLA is about 400 under its target of 4,200 freshmen.

At the same time, UC Irvine has nearly 900 more “statements of intent to register” than its target of 2,200 freshmen. UC Santa Barbara has about 750 more freshmen students planning to attend than the 3,200 it expected. UC San Diego is about 700 above its target of nearly 3,300. And UC Santa Cruz is about 400 over its target of 1,680 freshmen.

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UC Riverside is also slightly below its target figure of 1,100, but that is because not enough students have applied. As a result, that campus is still accepting applications--which Berkeley and UCLA are not. Those two campuses report that they were inundated with applications this year.

“We could have filled the class with all 4.0s (students with straight-A averages) if we had wanted to,” said Berkeley spokesman Raymond A. Colvig.

UC Davis reports that, like Berkeley and UCLA, it is also “somewhat behind” its target for the fall, although Maynard C. Skinner, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and undergraduate admissions, said that he is certain that the campus will be able to fill its classes with qualified students for the fall term.

Indeed, officials at all eight campuses with undergraduate programs have expressed confidence that, before the summer is over, the problems in the admissions process will be solved and that all qualified students will find places at the university.

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The change in the 23-year-old admissions process was designed to give students more choice in where they go to college.

Previously, students could apply to only one campus. If they were qualified but not admitted because of lack of space at that campus, the university redirected them to a campus that still had room. Practically speaking, it meant that students who did not get into their first-choice university often did not end up attending their second-choice campus either.

Under the new system, however, students have been allowed to apply to as many undergraduate campuses as they want and are then free to choose from among all the campuses that accept them.

As a result, applications to individual campuses have soared--even though the actual number of students applying to the system rose only about 2% this year.

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Because students on the average applied to two or more campuses, the problem has been for the campuses to figure out how many students to accept. Typically, private colleges and universities in other states rely on years of data about how many students accept their offers of admission.

Fearing that they could “over-admit” and end up with more students than they could accommodate, Berkeley and UCLA officials said they were quite conservative in the number of students they took this year. As it turned out, however, an unexpected percentage of students who applied to those two campuses elected to go elsewhere, while a number of qualified students who might have wanted to attend those campuses were turned down.

Although neither campus intends to admit students that have already been rejected, they have sent letters to students whose admission had been deferred to the winter term and offered them a place in their fall classes.

Santa Barbara and other campuses that accepted too many students have also written letters to some incoming freshmen who live near UCLA and Berkeley asking if they would just as soon attend those campuses. If that does not draw enough students away from the newly overcrowded campuses, letters will be sent to other students, offering them the same option.

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Joseph P. Allen, Santa Cruz’s director of admissions, said he and his counterparts at Santa Barbara, Irvine and San Diego were delighted to know that their campuses are so popular, even though the new system has caused headaches.

Rae Lee Siporin, director of admissions at UCLA, and Richard H. Shaw Jr., associate director of admissions at Berkeley, both expressed concern, however, that publicity about the problems in the new admissions system would lead students and their families to the mistaken assumption that UCLA and Berkeley were both going begging for students, which is clearly not the case. Each campus had more than 20,000 applications for about 4,000 places.

To even qualify for admission to UC, California residents must be in the upper eighth of their high-school graduating classes. Individual campuses, however, are free to select from that group the students they would like to admit. The campuses generally take into consideration not just a students’ grades and scores on standardized tests but also the number of honors courses the students elected and their extracurricular activities. In selecting students, admissions officers also take into account such factors as race and economic background so that there will be a “mix” of students in each class.


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