by Patricia McBroom and Marie Felde
The fall '97 school year officially gets under way when classes begin Monday, Aug. 25. But already the campus is busy with orientations and the Aug. 18 start of law school classes.
Freshmen were welcomed to the campus with an assembly at Zellerbach Hall Monday, Aug. 18. They learned about traditions and campus spirit and got a welcome from Chancellor Berdahl, who is experiencing his "freshman" year here as well.
In all, the total number of students expected to enroll for fall '97 is 29,975, with 21,525 undergraduates and 8,450 graduate students.
For the first time since World War II, the incoming class has a majority of women.
Some 50.7 percent of the freshmen and transfer students this year are female, making it the first non-war year in the university's history that women have outnumbered men.
The greater percentage of women reflects a national trend in higher education and is probably not a chance happening, said Gregg Thomson, director of the Office of Student Research, which analyzed applicant data on students who said they would register this fall.
"I think the trend toward more women will continue," said Thomson. He said small liberal arts colleges have shown a decisive trend toward more women for several years, adding that the male majority at Berkeley and other large public universities has often been traced to the size of schools of engineering, which are traditionally male.
In other fields, however, more women than men are seeking college degrees at a national level, and at Berkeley in the past few years, a higher percentage of women have graduated. It used to be that graduation rates for men were higher, said Thomson.
The ethnic makeup of the freshman class has changed little over last year. This year, the class composition, based on those who filed a statement of intent to register, is:
Again this year, as in recent years, the high school grade point average for freshmen climbed above straight A, reaching the lofty height of 4.10. The average SAT score -more than 1,300 points-is also the highest ever.
The cost of undergraduate fees this year is holding steady for the third year in a row. California residents will pay $4,354 for the year, including health insurance. The cost of out-of-state tuition and fees is $13,338 for the year, including health insurance. That's an increase of $590 from last year.
Those enrolling in professional schools, however, are seeing a sizable increase. Newly enrolled law and business students will pay $6,000 per year above the basic fees and tuition; new optometry students will pay an additional $3,000.
Students will begin to benefit this year from the campus's efforts to raise scholarship money. For the first year in many, expectations concerning how much money a student is expected to earn and borrow will decline.
Last year, undergraduates were expected to contribute from $6,100 to $6,650 toward their total yearly budget, including fees and living expenses. This year, they are expected to earn and borrow between $6,100 and $6,400. Self-help expectations for independent students who do not have a parental contribution has been lowered from $7,900 to $7,000.
The lowered expectations indicate that more support is pouring in from other sources, including donations to the university and a $300 increase to the federal Pell Grants, up from $2,400 per year.
"It's good news that self-help expectations have been reduced for most students," said Financial Aid Director Richard Black.
"We are making good progress. Gifts, bequests and endowments are working."
Black added that increased grant aid from the federal government has also made a difference for students this year.