Admissions rates at top schools declining

LOS ANGELES (U-WIRE) – With more people interested in higher education and more accessible university outreach programs, a greater number of students are applying to top universities and finding it harder to get admitted to them.

The percentage of students admitted into the University of California-Los Angeles has significantly decreased this year, following a nationwide trend of dropping admissions rates at top universities.

UCLA’s admission rate this year is 23 percent, 2 percent less than last year’s and 5 percent less than the previous one.

Most top universities, such as the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Stanford University, have seen decreases in their admissions rates. Harvard University accepted fewer than 9 percent of the students who applied, compared to the 9.27 percent it accepted last year. Cornell University’s admission rate decreased by almost 4 percent.

A reason for the low admissions rates is that more people are applying to the universities, said Janina Montero, UCLA vice chancellor of student affairs.

“We have an increased number of applicants; we do not have additional spaces in the university,” Montero said.

Michigan saw a 10 percent decrease in its admissions rate between 2005 and 2006. Deborah Greene, a spokeswoman for the university, said the reason is that the school receives more applicants every year. This year, the university received 2,000 more applications than the previous year.

“Interest is strong throughout the U.S.; we are getting a strong number of applications from every sector of the country and the state of Michigan, because we’re a public school,” Greene said.

But private universities are seeing a decrease as well. Stanford’s current admission rate is 10.25 percent, a slight decrease from last year, said Diane Williams, administrative associate of undergraduate admissions at Stanford.

“More and more students are interested in attending college,” she said. “More and more colleges and universities are reaching out and students are realizing the accessibility to them.”

She said the outreach programs at Stanford have been increasing and could potentially serve as an answer to why more students have been applying to the university.

Montero said officials are strengthening the outreach programs at UCLA as well.

“We have certainly tried to have more of a presence in the schools and in the states,” Montero said.

She said the university’s outreach efforts were important to give potential students better information in applying.

Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams promised last fall to increase the university’s presence in local high schools, said Fabienne McPhail Naples, associate director of undergraduate admissions and relations of UCLA, to the Daily Bruin last quarter.

Though the explicit purpose of the outreach programs is not to simply increase the number of applicants to UCLA, it could be a reason for it, Montero said.

Another reason for the increased applications could be that more students are graduating from high school, Montero said.

The overall high school completion rate has increased, specifically for black and Hispanic students, according to the National Center for Education. For example, since the 1970s, the high school completion rate for Hispanics rose from 48 percent to 63 percent, according to the center.

Because the applicant pool of high school graduates is getting larger, competition to get into colleges is increasing as well.

The quality of the applications are continually increasing in areas such as academic achievement and community involvement, Montero said.