Written by Shawna Chen
In early January, the University of California (UC) found itself omitted from Gov. Jerry Brown’s new budget proposal. The UC system was not given the funds necessary to increase in-state enrollment. As a result, the UC’s expansion plans will be delayed, and it is uncertain how the limited budget will affect admissions rates.
According to the UC, the number of Californian high school students that applied to UC campuses rose by 3 percent this year. Furthermore, in-state minority applications hit a record high for the graduating class of 2015. However, admission rates for in-state students have declined steadily while the number of accepted students from other states and countries has risen by nearly 14 percent for some UC schools.
In the spring of 2014, San Jose Mercury News conducted an analysis and found that between 2009 and 2013, the UC saw a 2 percent increase in California freshman enrollment while a 273 percent increase in out-state freshman enrollment dominated admissions. Nonetheless, UC officials argue that they would be forced to make even more in-state cuts without the extra money obtained from out-state students.
“The access that my generation had to UCs is not the same as your generation has,” assistant principal Tom Jacoubowsky said. “It’s tough to see that it’s getting harder to get into the UCs because of economics.”
Like many, Jacoubowsky is troubled about what the lack of funding will mean for future college students. “You hope that everyone who gets accepted and has a good standing will be able to get in, so that’d be concerning if funding isn’t there as far as a place for next year,” he said. Regardless of what UC officials have said, Jacoubowsky believes that the disparity between tuition for in- and out-state students will affect future admissions. “Because they have to open up spots to people who pay more, it’s beginning to feel like you have to pay your way in,” he said.
Although Jacoubowsky acknowledges that there is no way to know for certain how limited funding will impact admissions rates for the class of 2015, it is highly possible out-state students will be considered over California residents when it comes down to final decisions. “If you have to choose between an in-state and out-state student, the out-state student pays about three times more,” he said. “The odds are probably good that the out-state person will get the preference, and that can be very frustrating, where the state that you a resident of, that you believed in, that you worked toward, you won’t have the same opportunity previous residents had.”
Senior Aren Raisinghani understands the difficulty of the situation but believes that the UC’s priority should be its in-state students. “If they were to limit the number of students taken in, since it’s a university of California public school, I think the first kind of group of students that they should start limiting is out-of-state,” he said. “They should really try to provide for their own state, but I definitely see where they’re coming from; they need that funding. It’s kind of a conflict between doing the right thing for California residents or doing the one that gives them the money that they need.”
Nonetheless, Raisinghani encourages students not to worry about the possibility of lower admission rates. “There are nine UC schools, and they’re all relatively large public schools,” he said. “Besides, UCs aren’t the only ones out there. There are a ton of great schools: California State Universities, Cal Poly, Pomona, and they’re all really good options; the UCs aren’t the end-all, be-all.”
Jacoubowsky also reiterates the fact the college is only a part of life, not life itself. “There are so many great schools with great opportunities,” he said. “The vast majority of people ten years later, twenty years later, regardless of where they went to school won’t go, ‘Oh, I wish I’d gone there instead of here.’”
While the college process can be stressful, Jacoubowsky hopes students will focus on the memories they’ll make in college. Regardless of which college students attend, there will be new friendships, activities and interests to pursue. “The vast majority of students when they go off to college, wherever it may be, make it a great experience for themselves and enjoy it immensely,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of stress and pressure about needing to get into a specific college, but the college experience is just going to be one part of many great events in your life, regardless of where you may go.”