This year’s admission process was the most selective in UCSB history, with just 39 percent of the over 62,000 prospective applicants being admitted for the 2013-2014 school year.
According to the Office of Admissions, the statistic marks a six percent decrease from the 45 percent of applicants offered admission last year. The admitted applicants have an average high school GPA of 4.13 and 26.7 percent are members of underrepresented minority groups, furthering upward trends in academic achievement and diversity from last year.
Chancellor Henry T. Yang said UCSB’s academic reputation as a research powerhouse along with its beautiful landscape has led to the increase in applicants.
“We received a record number of applications for Fall 2013,” Yang said in an email. “There are many reasons for this, including the ever-increasing academic reputation of our campus, the spectacular natural setting we enjoy here and the supportive and diverse campus environment we share. Students want to come here to learn from and do research with faculty who are the forefront of their fields, and to be part of a vibrant intellectual community with their peers.”
The number of applications has been increasing not only at UCSB but UC-wide over the past few years, which, according to UCSB Director of Admissions Christine Van Gieson, can be attributed to the prestigious academic rankings UC system schools have received.
“One of course is that the UC system overall has a very fine reputation both nationally and internationally,” Van Gieson said. “So many of the UCs are considered among the top 10 in the world.”
According to Van Gieson, the university has also seen an increase in applications from out-of-state and international students, partially due to the fact that the university recently began recruiting these students as a way of compensating for the lack of state funding for California residents.
“It helps to make up the deficit of funding,” Van Gieson said. “But I think also many of us, myself included, have felt that having a higher percentage of nonresidents is a positive thing — that it brings different perspectives into the classroom.”
Last fall, 4,741 freshmen and 1,651 transfer students enrolled in the university. Next fall, the school plans to enroll 4,550 freshmen and 1,550 transfer students — approximately 200 fewer freshmen and 100 fewer transfer students. According to Van Gieson, a committee sets these numbers each year based on how many students are continuing and how many are graduating.
“Our goal in setting those numbers is to provide as much access to new students while not overcrowding the campus and also reaching our funding level,” Van Gieson said.
Although there are fewer spots available, the reduction in spaces does not seem to account for the dramatic increase in competition for acceptance letters. Van Gieson said on average, this year’s applicants had higher GPAs and test scores than ever before, something that may simply go hand-in-hand with the general trend towards increasing competitiveness in higher education.
While UCSB has been accepting more students, its yield rate has been declining because a greater number of students have been applying to more schools at once, according to Van Gieson.
To deal with the influx of applications, the university received money to hire a few extra staff members on a temporary basis. Admissions has also received help from other campus staff, hired about 100 people seasonally and engaged in some collaborative reviews of applications with other UC campuses to determine whether candidates met UC eligibility requirements.
Van Gieson also said the changing background of applicants has prompted the university to consider how to accommodate students who want to enter impacted majors or offer services for the increasing number of out-of-state students and first-generation college students.
Now that students have been accepted to UCSB, the recruiting campaign will begin to encourage the best and the brightest to attend, Van Gieson said. Prospective students receive emails about their academic major, while current students and faculty make calls to encourage attendance. The Visitor Center has been giving tours and presentations for prospective students to talk to academic advisors and encouraging accepted applicants to sit in on a class.
Yang said he has high hopes for incoming students and for the changes they will make to UCSB’s academic future.
“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of our entire campus community, we look forward to enrolling a freshman class that is highly talented, diverse, and academically prepared. We are excited about the contributions these students will make to our academic community,” Yang said in an email.
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of April 23rd, 2013′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.