Applications to the UC system have increased across the board and this year, UCSB received a record-breaking 80,893 freshman and transfer applicants.
Despite the projected drop in the number of California high school graduates this year, the number of UC applicants has increased by 6 percent from last year’s numbers. UCSB saw its largest pool of admitted students yet, marking a 1 percent increase from last year.
According to Chancellor Henry T. Yang, the increased number of applicants reflects UCSB’s ascent in prestige and rankings, as UCSB “has become an increasingly popular campus of choice for prospective students.”
“There are many reasons for this, including the rising academic reputation of our campus and the supportive and diverse campus environment we share,” Yang said in an email. “Students want to come here … and to be part of a vibrant intellectual community with their peers.”
Director of Admissions Lisa Przekop said the record number of applicants did not surprise her, as she said the university is attracting more students through larger college fairs and its overall rise in academic status.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of families coming through the Visitor Center over the last year,” Przekop said. “UCSB’s prestige continues to climb and with that, greater demand for access from top California high school students.”
For the second straight year Chicano/Latino applicants have made up the largest percentage of applicants, and Przekop said the trend is reflective of changing demographics in California as a whole. In addition to these reasons, Przekop also said there have been more “efforts by California educators to enroll more students in college-track curriculum,” as “higher education brings greater opportunity … to the increased diversity of the applicant pool.”
Despite the increased outreach and diversity, applicants to UCSB from the most academically disadvantaged schools and low-income families still sit at 23.3 percent and 37.8 percent, respectively. In regard to these low numbers, Yang said he recognizes that the school can still do more.
“I appreciate the collaborative efforts of our faculty, staff, students and alumni who have helped us to attract such a talented, diverse and high-achieving group of applicants,” Yang said. “At the same time, we recognize that we must sustain and intensify our efforts in order to continually improve.”
In addition, Yang has also been a part of widespread efforts to increase UCSB’s applicant allure.
“Each year in March, my wife, Dilling, and I have the honor of traveling with a dedicated team of faculty, staff, alumni, and student volunteers in order to meet with diverse groups of high-achieving scholars, and to talk with these prospective students and their families about UC Santa Barbara,” Yang said.
But according to Przekop, despite the positive impact increased admissions has on UCSB, the resulting increased number has also put a strain on admissions officials.
“It is extremely difficult to keep up with the workload,” Przekop said, “But we do our best and hope that other departments and/or prospective students will be patient, as we may take longer to respond to emails and phone calls at this time of the year.”
First year bio-psychology major Megna Rao said the increase in competition has made an impact on current high school students like her sister, who is currently considering the application process.
“She’s trying to stay ahead of the curve and the curve is huge,” Rao said. “There are many kids of her generation who won’t be able to get the education they need.”
A version of this story appeared on page 3 of Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.