Fall 2010 applications up, officials use new outreach tools

More than 50,000 student applicants, a record number, have applied for admission to the University of California, Berkeley’s fall 2010 freshman class, after campus admissions officials visited not only high schools but also chat rooms to connect with promising students.

According to data released today (Thursday, Jan. 14) by UC Berkeley admissions officials, student applications increased 3.5 percent, or by 1,687 applicants, over fall 2009 figures. A preliminary analysis suggests the pool is comparable in academic strength and socio-economic diversity to the previous year’s pool.

This development did not happen by accident, according to campus admissions officials. Walter Robinson, assistant vice chancellor and director of undergraduate admissions, said the fall 2010 admissions cycle marks UC Berkeley’s first use of electronic communications as a key outreach tool.

Admissions officials held webinars to chat with prospective students about the admissions process, academic offerings, student life, and the value of a UC Berkeley degree. They used Twitter accounts to announce new electronic services, deadline reminders and campus activities, and they hosted several virtual college fairs to reach out to students who could not visit UC Berkeley.

Admissions officials also used software applications that allow users to make calls over the Internet and to use two-way video, free of charge, to connect with schools, community-based organizations and other groups. Through such efforts, officials expanded their prospective student database from about 10,000 students in prior years to more than 90,000 students today, often reaching a more diverse group of students than if they had relied solely on traditional high school visits and college fairs.

UC Berkeley admissions officials also noted strong gains in fall 2010 transfer student applications, which were up 14 percent compared to fall 2009 applicants, and included increases in applications from every ethnic category.

For a detailed look at application data for all campuses in the University of California system, view the online information released today by the UC Office of the President.

UC Berkeley freshman admission decisions will be announced to students on March 25. Applicants are evaluated based on a combination of factors including grades, coursework, test scores, how the applicant handles challenges and opportunities, and indicators of personal characteristics including leadership, motivation and persistence.