Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latinos Highest Share of University of California’s Record-Breaking Number of Applicants

More students than ever are seeking a future at one of the University of California System’s nine campuses — among them a record-breaking number of Latino applicants. 

Latinos made up the largest share of applicants for the 2017 fall semester by far. According to figures released by the university system, 41,575 Latino applicants were California residents. 

Overall, the nine undergraduate campuses — Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Riverside — saw a 6 percent growth in applications over last year, with UCLA drawing the most prospective students. Latinos represented 37.2 percent of applicants — up from 35.8 percent last year – and the proportions of low-income students and first-generation students also grew over last year. Meanwhile, the proportion of applications from Asian-American and white students dropped slightly.

In his analysis for CALmatters this week, reporter Matt Levin writes that since 1997, the number of Latinos applying to attend the University of California has grown by 500 percent — from less than 7,000 to over 40,000 in just two decades.

Two decades ago, Latinos accounted for more than 40 percent of students in the state’s K-12 system, but made up just 14 percent of the University of California System’s in-state applicants. Currently, Latino students are the majority in California public schools, comprising nearly 54 percent of the student population during the 2015-16 school year. 

“Twenty years ago, if you plucked a random application from a University of California admissions office, it was pretty unlikely that you’d be looking at the transcript and SAT scores of a Latino high school senior,” Levin writes. “You are now more likely to find an application to one of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses from a Latino California teen than a white or Asian-American teen.”

It’s important to note, however, that while California Latinos have made up the largest percentage of applicants to UC schools in recent years, Asian-Americans represent the highest share of the system’s undergraduate student enrollment. For the fall term of 2016, 31.5 percent of new students were Asian-American; 24.9 percent were Latino. 

The volume of applications for next school year affirm that the demand for a University of California education continues to grow, President Janet Napolitano said in a news release. “This is a testament to the excellence of California’s public research university, and reinforces the imperative to continue working with our state government to preserve UC’s quality and affordability, and to ensure there is a place at the university for every deserving California student.”

According to the release, the University of California System has a goal of enrolling an additional 2,500 in-state residents in 2017 and 10,000 over the years.