UC Berkeley press release


UC Berkeley sends letters of acceptance this month to freshman applicants who applied in record numbers for fall '97

by Marie Felde

Berkeley -- A total of 8,243 freshman applicants have been admitted to the University of California at Berkeley for fall 1997, according to preliminary figures.

The campus received a record 27,085 freshman applications -- an increase of 8 percent over last year -- but was able to admit only 30 percent of those who applied. That means that 18,842 applicants were denied fall admission to UC Berkeley. The class that actually enrolls is expected to number about 3,500.

The acceptance letters were mailed March 19.

Competition for admission to UC Berkeley has intensified dramatically in recent years. The number of applicants has risen 36 percent in the last five years. Nearly 12,000 of the applicants for the fall '97 freshman class had high school grade point averages of 4.0 or better.

"Having such an academically talented pool of applicants is very good news," said Bob Laird, director of the Office of Undergraduate Admission and Relations with Schools. "The down side is that we have to deny admission to more than 18,000 applicants, so many of whom have excellent credentials."

To deal with growing demand from such an academically talented applicant pool, the campus has combined the fall and spring admissions processes. Approximately 2,200 fall applicants have been admitted to UC Berkeley for the spring '98 semester. Others can consider transferring into UC Berkeley after completing specified courses at community colleges through the Cooperative Admissions Program.

The campus selection process is complex yet very personalized.

"Our staff read in detail 23,000 applications, including the personal essays submitted by the applicants," Laird said. "Some of them were read up to four times. The rest of the applicants were admitted strictly on academic criteria."

Using the existing process, 50 percent of the applicants were admitted solely on the traditional academic criteria combining GPA and SAT scores. The rest were selected through a process that, in addition to academic criteria and the personal essays, takes into account factors such as achievement and leadership in non-academic areas, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, residency in rural parts of the state, special talents and disabilities.

Preliminary figures show that the next freshman class probably will have a racial and ethnic breakdown that is comparable to the one this year. The percentage of African Americans (7 percent) and American Indians (1 percent) in the fall '97 admit pool remained the same as last year. Chicanos (13 percent) increased by one percentage point and Asian Americans (36 percent) increased two percent. Whites (33 percent) declined by one point and Latinos (3 percent) dropped one percentage point.

Laird said the freshman class of '97 will undoubtedly continue the trend of the last five years, with each class besting the academic quality of the class before it.

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