Campus & community, Campus news

Newest admits are whip-smart and speak more than 20 languages

New admissions data paints a picture of the 2019 first-year and transfer admits

a student sits in a cafe

Eight percent more students have been offered freshman admission to UC Berkeley than last year. (UC Berkeley by Elena Zhukova)

A total of 14,668 high school students have been offered freshman admission to the University of California, Berkeley, for the 2019-2020 admitted class, 8% more than the 13,561 admitted last year.
In addition, 4,882 transfer students were admitted for the coming school year, up from 4,504 last year.

This year’s freshman admitted class benefited from a slightly reduced applicant pool — the 87,394 applications that UC Berkeley received represents a 2.5% drop from the previous year — and from a 75-seat increase in the number of freshman enrollment seats available.

All nine UC undergraduate campuses released their admissions data today (Monday, July 22), in coordination with the UC Office of the President, which has produced charts with data from all the campuses.

The freshman class

This year’s freshman admitted class is academically strong, with an average unweighted GPA of 3.92 and an SAT score of 1427. These data are very comparable to those of last year’s admitted class, but slightly higher. This year, 9,637 Californians were offered admission, 728 more residents than a year ago. They represent 50 of the state’s 58 counties.

The 2,679 first-generation students (neither parent has a four-year college or university degree or higher) in the freshman admitted class represent an increase of about 90 more than last year. There are more than 200 additional students who are underrepresented minorities (Native Americans, African Americans, and Chicanx/Latinx students) in the freshman admitted class — 2,934 this year all together — than there were last year.

The admitted pool includes students from 52 U.S. states and territories and 74 countries. The oldest student is 28, and the youngest is 15. Collectively, they speak more than 20 languages.

three students in lab coats look at the camera

At least 100 new admits have performed in Carnegie Hall and 170 have participated in the Science Olympiad. (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

At least 100 students who have performed at Carnegie Hall — either solo or as part of a group — and at least 170 students who participated in the Science Olympiad, a national science competition, are in the admitted class, which also boasts about 50 Eagle Scouts and at least 50 Girl Scout Gold Award winners.

Offers of admission are followed by a time frame for students to learn more about the campus and to formally declare their intention to accept the offer and enroll. Compared to previous years, many more of the students in this year’s admitted class attended campus receptions and other events offered to introduce them to Berkeley. Attendance at these receptions was up 56%, and many of the attendees confirmed their intention to register forms early, a week or so ahead of the usual late May time frame. This year, 6,690 students accepted the offer of admission, compared to 6,214 a year ago.

Olufemi Ogundele, assistant vice chancellor and director of UC Berkeley’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, said this trend also surfaced at other colleges and universities, but that there were specific efforts at UC Berkeley that may have contributed to the change.

students study in the library

The 2019 freshman class has an average unweighted GPA of 3.92 and a SAT score of 1427. (UC Berkeley photo by Steve McConnell)

“We made some changes designed to meet students where they are and to send the message that ‘We can’t wait for you to join us,’” Ogundele said. “This included, for example, holding virtually all receptions on weekends rather than weekdays and revamping the Cal Day and Transfer Day experiences so that they catered to the newly-admitted students, not only by providing critical information sessions but by offering them special access to campus events and attractions.”

That effort reflects the first part of a reimagined admissions approach that Ogundele, who began his post in January, is instituting. His goal is to reach more of California’s communities, including rural areas, and to make sure that transfer students, under-represented students, military veterans and other nontraditional students know that Berkeley is not only excellent in research and in its wide breadth of academic disciplines, but also in its support for students from all communities and experiences.

Transfer students

In particular, students seeking to transfer, even more so than the high school students, responded enthusiastically to Berkeley’s outreach and recruitment efforts. The number of students who accepted their offers of admission on Transfer Day — a UC Berkeley open house and series of information sessions that was greatly expanded this year — increased by more than 200% over last year.

Approximately 95% of these admitted transfer students come from the California Community Colleges. The youngest student is 15, and the oldest is 72. Compared to last year, there are about 210 more first-generation students — 2,256 all together — and about 150 more under-represented minority students, 1409 in all, being offered admission.

These students’ top feeder schools include Santa Monica College, Diablo Valley College, De Anza College, Pasadena City College and Berkeley City College.

New and ongoing freshman programs

More than 100 of the newly admitted freshmen were offered a Fiat Lux Scholarship, a faculty-led honor that supports the chancellor’s diversity goals. It has expanded in recent years to reach more students in the Bay Area and across the state. The scholarship includes faculty mentorship, advising support and an annual scholarship. The award amount, which is based on need, varies and can cover up to a student’s full financial need. Last year, the average award was $15,000.

a student waves a cal flag on memorial glade

In 2019, 9,637 Californians were offered admission to UC Berkeley, 728 more residents than last year. (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

This year, the campus has offered its most prestigious undergraduate scholarship, the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship, to 411 admitted freshmen students. Of them, 207 accepted the scholarship and will enroll at UC Berkeley, a high yield of 50%; 190 of the incoming scholars are California residents. The award can range from $2,500 up to the full cost of attendance, depending on the student’s financial need.

The popular Global Edge program is reaching more students than ever — with 85 newly admitted students deciding to spend this summer studying at Berkeley and in the fall as students in London.

Additional data on newly-admitted students

A more detailed review of Berkeley freshman admissions data can be found here. The Berkeley charts include counts for all students, California residents, out-of-state residents and international students. UCOP-provided data may differ slightly from UC Berkeley counts due to different points in time for data collection, and some UCOP charts are California-resident counts only.

Berkeley’s data includes students admitted from a wait list. To reach its admissions targets, Berkeley offers admission to an initial group of students and, depending on how many of those students accept the offer, the campus may offer admission to a second group of students on a wait list — these are students who have agreed to leave their admissions decision on hold and await a chance to be pulled from that list and offered admission. No wait list was needed for the transfer student group, because many in the first group of admitted students chose to enroll.

Admissions decisions for freshman applicants were posted March 28, and decisions for transfer students were posted on April 19.