For the second straight year, freshmen applications to the University of California campuses dropped across all three applicant categories — California, out-of-state and international students — while transfer applications rose, according to the official data released by the UC.
University-wide, freshmen applicants decreased from 176,530 in 2019 to 172,099 in 2020, according to the data. This decline mainly affected the UC campuses of Davis, Los Angeles, Merced, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz.
However, other UC campuses such as Berkeley and San Diego experienced a relatively modest increase, particularly UC Irvine, with a boost from 95,556 in 2019 to 97,916 in 2020.
At UCSB, freshmen applications decreased to 90,947, compared to 93,423 in 2019; the number of California and international applications fell, while out-of-state applications experienced a minor increase of 453, according to the data.
On the other hand, transfer applications rose from 41,120 in 2019 to 43,063 in 2020, a 4.8% rise over 2018, with every single UC campus experiencing this growth. In particular, the amount of transfer students applying to UCSB in 2020 increased in California and out-of-state categories, while the international category slightly dipped.
Lisa Przekop, UCSB director of Admissions, explained in an email that the decline of freshman applications is a nationwide trend, and that “some shifts may be due to the anticipated decline in the actual number of high school graduates in this age group (general population decline).”
Przekop added that the shifts may also be due to the cost of college becoming a major concern to students.
Despite a decrease in the number of applications, Przekop said the academic profile of this year’s applicants improved.
“The academic profile of our freshman applicant pool actually increased (higher GPA and test scores). The number of applicants at the highest academic profile increased this year while students in lower academic bands decreased,” Przekop noted.