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Students with wide array of talents, strong academics admitted to Cal

 Janet Gilmore, Public affairs | 

Eagle Scouts, nationally ranked debaters, an under-18 world Scrabble champion and U.S. standouts in Extreme Cowboy Racing, cricket and swimming are among the 13,500 high school students being offered seats in UC Berkeley’s incoming class, following a highly competitive admissions cycle.

Campus officials released their 2018-19 freshman and transfer admissions data today, in coordination with the University of California system’s release of data for its nine undergraduate campuses.

Freshmen students

As anticipated, Berkeley’s pool of admitted students not only exhibits a wide variety of extracurricular talents, but equally strong academic accomplishments. The students’ average weighted GPA is 4.45, compared to 4.44 for last year’s admitted class, and their average ACT score is 31, the same as last year’s class.

A record high of 89,616 students applied for freshman admission to Berkeley, and 13,561 were offered seats. According to Amy Jarich, assistant vice chancellor and director of undergraduate admissions at Berkeley, this was a particularly competitive admissions cycle. In addition to an increase in applications, which tends to occur each year, the campus admitted fewer students for the 2018-19 school year than it did last year.

For two years, Berkeley — and other campuses in the UC system — have been engaged in a coordinated and focused effort to rapidly boost the enrollment of California residents. Berkeley exceeded these enrollment targets. This year, the campus planned a slight reduction in the number of new undergraduates, to bring its overall enrollment more in line with campus resources available to support such rapid growth.This resulted in about 1,900 fewer admissions offers than last year, and a lower admit rate.

The campus anticipates enrolling 6,075 new freshmen this fall, compared to 6,382 for fall 2017 — about 5 percent fewer. Officials anticipate that California residents will continue to make up at least 70 percent of enrolled freshmen. Fun facts about these students include that the youngest is 13 and the oldest is 25.

In spite of an overall drop in admissions offers, including in most ethnic categories, Berkeley continues to show some improvement in enrolling underrepresented students. For example, admissions offers to Chicano-Latino students dropped from 2,273 in 2017-18 to 2,119 for 2018-19. However, 968 are expected to enroll this fall, compared to 960 last year.

The only ethnic group with an increase in admissions offers is African Americans, who also submitted more than 300 additional applications to Berkeley, compared to last year. For 2018-19, African Americans received 538 admissions offers, compared to 512 for 2017-18. Also, a comparable number of African American students accepted their admissions offers this year —195, compared to 192 in 2017.

Admissions officials note that the increase in African American student admissions and acceptance may indicate that the work of the campus’s African American Initiative, launched in late 2015, is beginning to pay off, with these students showing up strong in admissions reviews and in accepting their offers. This year, the African American Initiative offered its first set of scholarships to African American students at Berkeley. This San Francisco Foundation-funded scholarship is administered by the Cal Alumni Association and supports a campus initiative to increase recruitment and enrollment efforts, improve campus climate and create an attractive environment for African American students. Initially, 29 admitted students were offered the scholarship, and 23 accepted the award and their admissions offers. Later, five additional students who had committed to Berkeley were also granted the award, for a total of 28 scholarships awarded. Each student will receive $8,000 annually (for up to $40,000 over five years).

A number of positive developments have occurred at Berkeley in regard to scholarships. For example, the campus’s most prestigious scholarship, the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship, which is awarded for outstanding academic and personal achievement, was able to offer a new $1,000 candidate award to all nominees for the scholarship. Upon accepting their offers of admission, students received the award, in addition to other financial assistance provided, to cover financial need. The scholarship program also saw its highest yield rate to date: 49 percent of students offered the scholarship will attend Berkeley in the fall.

The Fiat Lux Scholarship program, which promotes diversity in outreach and access, is expanding to reach more students in local Bay Area schools and in under-resourced schools elsewhere in the state. The program has offered 200 scholarships of $14,000 each in prior years; this year, and for the next five years, approximately 300 scholarships will be awarded annually, thanks to new funding. This year, 84 percent of the students offered the Fiat Lux Scholarship accepted the offer of admission to Berkeley.

Transfer students

Among transfer students, 19,215 individuals applied for admission, and 4,487 were offered admission (about 132 fewer than last year). Officials anticipate that 2,417 transfer students will enroll — about 300 fewer than fall 2017. Despite the anticipated drop in enrollment, Berkeley continues to meet its goal of enrolling one California resident transfer student for every two California freshmen. About 94 percent of the transfer students offered admission for 2018-19 are from California community colleges. The top feeder schools are Diablo Valley College, Santa Monica College, Pasadena City College, De Anza College and Berkeley City College. The youngest transfer student being offered admission is 15 and the oldest is 63.

Additional data

A more detailed review of Berkeley freshman admissions data is available online. Also available are UC systemwide admissions data which include freshman and transfer figures for all UC campuses.

Berkeley’s data includes students admitted from the waitlist. Admissions decisions for freshmen were initially posted on March 29, and transfer students were notified of their decisions on April 27. Waitlist decisions were delivered throughout May for freshmen and during June for transfer students.