New UC Berkeley admission figures show modest gain in underrepresented minority students for fall 1999

By Jesus Mena and Janet Gilmore, Public Affairs

BERKELEY-- Offers of admission for the 1999-2000 school year have been extended by the University of California, Berkeley, to about 10,700 high school seniors who hail from nearly every county in California.

Of the 31,051 students - a record number -who applied, UC Berkeley offered fall 1999 admission to 8,197 students, or roughly one of every four applicants, campus administrators announced today (Friday, April 2). Another 2,491 students were offered admission for the spring 2000 term.

The individuals admitted for the fall 1999 class live in 53 of the state's 58 counties. About 25 percent of them come from families with annual incomes of less than $35,000. Furthermore, the percentage of African American, American Indian, Chicano and Latino students admitted has increased.

The number of underrepresented minority students admitted to the fall 1999 class is 29.1 percent higher than last year, rising from 818 a year ago to 1,056 as of April 1, 1999. Collectively, this group of students represents 13.2 percent of the admitted fall 1999 freshman class, compared to 10.5 percent last year.

The number of students admitted to the fall 1999 freshman class also includes more white students, whose numbers increased from 2,674 at this time last year to 2,871 as of April 1, 1999. The number for Asian American students also increased, from 2,998 last year to 3,196 this year. The number of admitted students who declined to state their ethnicity dropped from 1,237 last year to 716 this year.

The group of students accepted for the fall 1999 freshman class breaks down as follows: Asian American, 40 percent; white, 35.9 percent; Chicano/Latino, 9.3 percent; African American, 3.5 percent; and American Indian, 0.5 percent. The remainder, including students who declined to state their ethnicity or described themselves as "other," comprises 10.8 percent of the admitted population. These figures do not include international students.

"Our goal is to admit a class of exceptional students who represent the best of California, and I am delighted with what we have achieved this year," said Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl. "I am also heartened by the modest increase in underrepresented minority students."

Admissions numbers at UC Berkeley routinely fluctuate from year to year. Campus officials also believe that this year's increase in admitted African American, Chicano, Latino and American Indian students is linked to several other factors. Foremost are the strong records of this year's pool of underrepresented minority applicants.

Chancellor Berdahl also credited the hard work of students who volunteered to recruit the incoming class.

"I want to express my thanks to the Cal students who have shown incredible commitment to our recruitment efforts," Berdahl said. "Many of our students are volunteering their time, sharing with applicants their personal thoughts and observations about academic life and social life on the UC Berkeley campus."

UC Berkeley continues to build on the admissions process that first went into effect last year. This process considers not only the academic and non-academic accomplishments of the students, but the context in which those accomplishments were achieved. Every application is read, in its entirety, by at least two expert readers.

This year's readers had access to more information on the opportunities, or lack of opportunities, that applicants had at their particular schools. The campus has now built a comprehensive database that includes a broad range of academic and socio-economic indicators for each high school. This information on the accomplishments of each applicant, relative to his or her peers within the same high school, is provided to readers along with each applicant file.

"I am extremely pleased with this year's admissions process," said math professor Calvin Moore, chair of UC Berkeley's Admissions, Enrollment & Preparatory Education committee. "Our faculty worked very closely with admissions officials, application readers and others to ensure that the process would offer a full, comprehensive assessment of each applicant. We look forward to teaching this remarkable group of students."

In this year's recruitment efforts, numerous UC Berkeley student volunteers logged long hours calling financially disadvantaged applicants, offering assistance with financial aid applications and answering any general questions they might have about student life at UC Berkeley.

These same volunteers also are participating in numerous activities, both on and off campus, designed to give the newly admitted students a clearer view of college life at UC Berkeley.

With increased funding from the state Legislature, UC Berkeley officials also broadened their efforts to reach out to urban K-12 schools and help students there master the courses and subject matter that prepares them for college. UC Berkeley students, working as tutors and as teachers, are an important part of this effort.

UC Berkeley officials mailed admissions letters to accepted students on Wednesday, March 31. Students have until May 1 to sign and return an intent-to-register letter. Officials estimate that roughly 3,700 students ultimately will register for the fall freshman 1999 class. An additional 860 students are expected to enroll for spring 2000.

Transfer student applicants still are being reviewed. Admissions officials expect to send acceptance letters to 2,450 community college transfer students by April 30.

All students admitted to the fall and spring freshman 1999 classes are being invited to a series of statewide receptions. Many students also plan to come to Cal Day, April 17, when the entire campus will be open to the public, and special programs will be held for admitted students.

In addition, UC Berkeley officials have launched a larger and more personal campaign aimed at convincing more underrepresented minority students to enroll at UC Berkeley. Many of these students will receive phone calls from UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff who individually will invite them to Cal Day. The callers also will urge students to attend one of the numerous small, informal receptions for underrepresented minority students that will be held throughout California this month.

Genaro Padilla, UC Berkeley's vice chancellor for undergraduate affairs, said the campus's goal is to admit a socially diverse student body in order to foster a rich undergraduate experience.

"We're doing everything we can to welcome each and every student, " said Padilla. "We want all students to know that Cal offers not only a world class education, but a supportive environment where students succeed and thrive."

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