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Berkeleyan

Berkeleyan

Admissions data a source of pride — and disappointment
Berdahl saddened by ‘flat-out unacceptable’ drop in number of underrepresented minority students

| 21 April 2004

Virtually every year for more than a dozen years, the pool of high-school students offered admission to Berkeley has become more academically competitive than the last. The fall 2004 freshman class is no exception.

According to figures released Tuesday by campus officials, 8,887 high-school students from across the state were offered admission. They comprise an extraordinarily talented group, meeting or exceeding last fall’s admitted class in SAT scores, grade-point averages, and honors courses taken. And many of them exhibit vast talents beyond the classroom.

But the data on underrepresented students offered admission to Berkeley are disappointing. The number of black students offered admission has dropped from 298 in fall 2003 to 211 for fall 2004. For Chicano/Latino students, the number has dropped from 1,030 in fall 2003 to 955 for fall 2004. American Indian numbers have dropped from 51 in 2003 to 40 for fall 2004.

Chancellor Berdahl, dissatisfied with the modest increases in admissions among underrepresented students during the past few years, said the current figures are “just flat-out unacceptable.”

“I am profoundly saddened and disappointed that so many of these students, especially African American students, will not receive the exceptional education and experience that this public institution has to offer,” he said.

Berdahl, who will retire at the end of the school year, said he will devote the rest of his tenure to doing all he can to find new strategies and set up new programs that will allow Berkeley to increase the number of underrepresented students who apply and are admitted here. He hopes his successor will build on his efforts.

“We have to think about new strategies,” said Berdahl. “We understand the will of California voters, that admissions should not include racial preferences, but I cannot believe the will of the voters would be to deny us the right to provide targeted programs to prepare more underrepresented students for admission to Berkeley.”

The number of underrepresented students offered admission has dropped at most campuses in the UC system. While university officials cannot explain this drop, associated factors include a drop in applications; state budget cuts along with proposed student fee increases; actual cuts in funding for outreach; and, overall, a more competitive pool of student applicants.

At Berkeley, statistics also suggest there were fewer offers of admission to students from low-income families. This group typically attends lower performing high schools. Financial aid data show more than a 10 percent drop in admitted students who qualified for federal Pell grants. There was a 13 percent decline in admitted students who qualified for the federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants that are reserved for students with exceptional financial need.

Additional data about the fall 2004 freshman class include the following:

• The admission rate for California residents remained largely the same, 25.4 percent for students admitted for fall 2004 compared to 25.3 percent for fall 2003. California residents make up 86.8 percent of the class, down from 87.6 percent for fall 2003. Admitted students represent every county in California except Alpine, which provided no applicants.

• Women represent 55 percent of the class, the same percentage as last year.

• Asian American students represent 40.8 percent of the class compared to 40 percent for fall 2003; white students represent 35.5 percent of the class compared to 32.9 percent in fall 2003; Chicano/Latino students represent 11 percent of the class compared to 12.2 in fall 2003; African Americans represent 2.4 percent of the class compared to 3.5 percent in fall 2003; and American Indian students represent 0.5 percent of the class compared to 0.6 percent in fall 2003.

• Out-of-state students represent 10.9 percent of next fall’s admitted freshman class, up from 10.2 percent for fall 2003. International students represent 2.4 percent of the class, up from 2.2 percent in fall 2003.

• Overall, Berkeley received 36,725 applications from Cali-fornia, out-of-state and international students — 195 fewer than for fall 2003. The overall admit rate for fall 2004 was 24.2 percent, up from 23.6 percent for fall 2003.

(All data included here represent preliminary statistics available as of March 29. Unless indicated otherwise, the data include all students, domestic and international.)

Under comprehensive review, students are evaluated for admission to Berkeley based on a combination of factors including grades, test scores, coursework, how they have handled challenges and opportunities, and indicators of personal characteristics including leadership, motivation, and persistence.

Included in the fall 2004 class are students nationally and internationally ranked in horseback riding, ice skating, and gymnastics; academic decathalon and debate team captains; fine artists and musicians; and winners of prestigious science competitions.

Offers of admission were sent to students on March 30; they have until May 1 to submit a statement of intent to register. It is anticipated that 3,610 of these 8,887 students will enroll.