This story originally appeared in UCLA Today, a discontinued publication.

Frosh admits' scores, GPA rise

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concern over fewer underrepresented students

The academic quality of freshmen admitted to UCLA for fall, compared to last year’s admitted class, has risen substantially, with test scores up in almost every category, according to data released April 18 by UCLA’s admissions office.

Admitted students showed substantial gains in their SAT I and SAT II scores. As a class, they posted an overall grade point average (including honors and advanced placement courses) of 4.25, slightly higher than last fall’s 4.24. The average UC-wide GPA for admitted students this year is 3.8.

“We are delighted to have admitted this extraordinary group of students with academic credentials that are among the best in the country,” Chancellor Albert Carnesale said. “We will now work very hard to encourage these young scholars to enroll at UCLA.”

The data on freshman admissions, however, also brought some bad news. In terms of ethnicity, UCLA — and UC Berkeley as UC’s most competitive campuses — admitted a smaller percentage of underrepresented students this year compared to last year. And that has greatly troubled campus administrators.

“I am disappointed and frustrated by the drop in the number of underrepresented students,” Chancellor Carnesale said. “We at UCLA will continue to make every effort consistent with the law and resource limitations to improve the diversity of our students, faculty and staff.”

This year, as a consequence of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget plan, UCLA has admitted 9,896 students — 685 fewer than last year — from among 43,179 applicants, the largest number of applicants in the nation. Campus officials estimate that 3,915 students will enroll for the fall, down from 4,275 last year.

Because of the state budget deficit, the University of California is unable for the first time in more than four decades to accommodate all eligible students as freshmen. UC admitted 3,368 fewer prospective freshmen for the upcoming fall quarter compared to last year, a decrease of 6.7%. A total of 46,923 students were admitted.

At UCLA, said Thomas E. Lifka, assistant vice chancellor for student academic services, “we are admitting fewer students, but we also received fewer applications this year.” While applications to the campus dropped 3.2%, overall, applications to all UC campuses were down 4.1%. “It’s very difficult to say why this is happening,” Lifka noted. Some speculate that uncertainty about fees, which have been rising each year, was a factor.

The fact that UCLA has admitted fewer freshmen is one possible explanation for the rise in scores, causing a shift toward those who were better prepared academically, Lifka said. Another possibility is self-selection by students who decided not to apply because of the rigorous competition.

Admitted students’ average SAT I score jumped more than 20 points to 1,353. The average score for the three SAT II tests also increased, with writing scores jumping 15 points to 682 and math scores rising nine points to 694. There was an eight-point gain, to 698, for the third SAT II test — in a subject chosen by students from a prescribed list.

On the down side, preliminary admissions data showed that underrepresented students — Native Americans, African Americans and Chicanos/Latinos — constitute 15% (1,439) of the admitted freshman class, down from 16.1% (1,665) last year. The most significant drop, a trend that is being seen nationwide, was for African-American students; this year, 2.3% (225) of UCLA’s admitted freshman class is African-American, compared to 2.8% (292) last year.

To soften the impact of the enrollment reduction, UCLA will soon notify about 1,750 applicants that they qualify for the Guaranteed Transfer Option (GTO). The program assures transfer admissions to a limited number of high school senior applicants who must complete lower-division courses at community colleges and meet all the requirements listed on their transfer contract with UCLA. The governor has proposed that GTO students receive fee waivers at community colleges. Under the Dual Admissions Program, which ends after this year, UCLA has offered admission to 79 students.

Admitted freshman students have until May 3 to notify the campus of their intent to register here. Transfer students will be notified in May of their admission status.

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