With an average GPA of nearly 4.0, the high school seniors admitted to UCSB’s 2005 freshman class are the highest academically performing class to enter UCSB in school history.

UCSB announced Tuesday it admitted 19,753 high school students for fall 2005, drawing from its largest applicant pool ever of 37,498 applicants, according to a university press release. Admitted students have the strongest academic scores in campus history with an average grade point average of 3.99, compared to 3.98 in 2004. The average SAT score was 1260, which is up 12 points from last year and is another record high at the university. Ethnic and cultural diversity has also increased; admitted under-represented minorities are 20 percent of the total number of freshman admits, up from 19.9 percent last year.

“It’s our goal to admit the best students that we can, who are diverse and represent the state of California,” said Christine Van Gieson, UCSB director of admissions.

University admissions officials are still reviewing applications from the 8,668 transfer students who applied, according to the press release. Final decisions will be announced in May. UCSB expects to enroll about 1,400 transfer students this fall, with the freshman class expected to number 3,800 students. Statements of Intent to Register are due back May 1.

Van Gieson said about 4,000 to 5,000 admitted students attended the university-sponsored Spring Insight, held April 9, to learn more about the campus. She said campus tours have also been attracting record numbers of perspective students.

Chancellor Henry Yang said in a statement that the university has been trying to obtain a more diverse and scholastic student population.

“My colleagues and I are now working very hard to ensure that the class that we enroll in the fall will be our strongest ever, both in academic quality and diversity,” Yang said.

UCSB received the third largest number of applications out of the whole UC system, topped only by UCLA and UC Berkeley, Van Gieson said. UCSB ranked fourth out of the UC system for having the highest GPA for newly admitted students.

On average, students applied to 3.6 universities in the UC system, said Susan Wilbur, director of undergraduate admission for the University of California.

The UC system as a whole saw small gains in the admittance of under-represented minorities – 20.6 percent of the total number of admitted students compared to 20 percent last year, Wilbur said.

A record 93 percent of admitted applicants to the UC system were from California, and UC was also able to offer a place to all eligible applicants because of increased funding promised by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his proposed budget compact, which is to be finalized this summer.

To be eligible for admittance, California residents must complete the A-G requirements and maintain a GPA of 2.8 in these courses during 10th and 11th grades. They must also take the SAT I or ACT Assessment test and two SAT II tests of their choice.

“The University of California has a historic relationship with the citizens of California and it makes every effort to make a place for all California residents,” Van Gieson said. “Last year we were not able to honor this long-time guarantee. This year we’re sending a clear message [to applicants]: If you meet the guidelines, we will find a place for you [in] at least one UC campus.”

The UC system admitted 50,017 freshman applicants, up 10.8 percent from 2004, according to a UC press statement. Last year, UC was not able to admit all UC-eligible applicants because of budget cuts; only 45,136 high school students were admitted in 2004. Wilbur said she expects the total number of applicants to the UC system to keep increasing because of a large population boom, at least until the end of the decade. By then, the student-aged population is expected to return to a smaller size.

“Part of the compact allows us to grow every year for the next five years,” Wilbur said. “The increase in applicants will continue for the next few years, but by the end of the decade the tidal wave [of applicants] will end. [After this,] we won’t see some of the big increases of the last decade.”

UC Merced will open Fall 2005 with approximately 1,000 freshman students, according to a UC statement. Merced offered admission to 5,958 student applicants.