University of California Admissions 2022: Analyzing the Trends

Padya Paramita

University of California Admissions 2022: Analyzing the Trends

The 2022 admissions cycle was unpredictable in so many ways—many students got into their dream schools without expecting to while others might have been shocked to get denied from their targets or safeties because colleges seem more protective of their yield than ever. One of the most unexpected waves of results came not from one of the Ivies but over west at the University of California schools. UCs Berkeley, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Davis, Irvine, San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Merced all saw record rises in application numbers while trying to protect their yield and accept only the most competitive students. To provide you with more of an idea of what the UC application season looked like, we’ve brought you a range of stats and trends for the University of California admissions 2022.

Changes to the Application

Before diving into the results side of the University of California admissions 2022, it should be noted that the UCs made a couple of changes to the application requirements since the pandemic started. The first and perhaps most notable one is that the UCs are completely test blind, meaning that they don’t consider SAT or ACT scores at all when evaluating a student’s application. You might be wondering how the admissions office therefore might decide a student’s academic potential and chances to thrive on campus. The UCs pride themselves on a 13-point criteria list that they use to read applications. The factors they consider are:

  • Academic grade point average in all completed A-G courses, including additional points for completed UC-certified honors courses.
  • Number of, content of, and performance in academic courses beyond the minimum A-G requirements.
  • Number of and performance in UC-approved honors and Advanced Placement courses.
  • Identification by UC as being ranked in the top 9 percent of their high school class ("eligible in the local context," or ELC).
  • Quality of a student's senior-year program, as measured by the type and number of academic courses in progress or planned.
  • Quality of their academic performance relative to the educational opportunities available in their high school.
  • Outstanding performance in one or more academic subject areas.
  • Outstanding work in one or more special projects in any academic field of study.
  • Recent, marked improvement in academic performance, as demonstrated by academic GPA and the quality of coursework completed or in progress.
  • Special talents, achievements, and awards in a particular field, such as visual and performing arts, communication or athletic endeavors; special skills, such as demonstrated written and oral proficiency in other languages; special interests, such as intensive study and exploration of other cultures; experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service or significant participation in student government; or other significant experiences or achievements that demonstrate the student's promise for contributing to the intellectual vitality of a campus.
  • Completion of special projects undertaken in the context of a student's high school curriculum or in conjunction with special school events, projects, or programs.
  • Academic accomplishments in light of a student's life experiences and special circumstances.
  • Location of a student's secondary school and residence.

Therefore, even without test scores, the admissions readers had plenty to consider as they considered the various contexts of a student—their family and school background, their extracurricular activities and impact, and most importantly if they took the most rigorous and well-fit course available to them and did well in those courses.

There were also changes to the character limits in different parts of the application, considering that many activities were put on hold and classes went pass/fail including -

  • Academic History – UCs will allow pass/credit grades for A-G courses during COVID-19 impacted during the winter, spring, and summer semesters of 2020.
  • Activities & Awards –The character count for activity descriptions has been reduced to 350 characters (from 500), and the character count for award requirements, use of work earnings, and organization descriptions is 250 characters (from 500).
  • Writing Test: The UC has eliminated the SAT Essay/ACT Writing altogether.

University of California Admissions 2022: Latest Trends

We’re starting off our presentation of the University of California admissions 2022 data with the record made in the application numbers. Like most universities, the UCs also broke several records when it came to the number of applications they received. In fact, the UCs received the highest number of applications for fall 2022 across all campuses than they ever had. 210,840 students applied to UC schools this cycle, which is a 3.5% increase since last year. While 2019 and 2020 saw downward trends in application numbers, the advent of COVID-19 has changed things—perhaps students panic more and the UCs are often used as targets and safeties, or more efficient applications as they all use the same question. As a result, the 2021 and 2022 cycles both saw the highest ever number of candidates who submitted applications to the UC schools.

Let’s get even more specific into individual campuses for University of California admissions 2022. 149,779 students applied to UCLA—which is its highest ever application number. UC Berkeley on the other hand saw a 13.6% increase in applications to 128,192 this year. And the two most competitive schools weren’t all that experienced this surge. UC Irvine received 142,000 applications, setting a new record—the school has seen a 60% increase in number of candidates steadily since 2015. On the other hand, UC Davis received a record 110,189 applicants, which is a 4.1% increase over last year's 105,850 applicants.

The UCs also received their most diverse applicant pool ever. The system saw a 25% overall increase in Black applicants—including 57% increase at UC Berkeley and 47% increase at UCLA. Meanwhile, Latino, Asian American, and white applicants have increased by about 17% at all campuses. There was also a growth in applications from low-income California applicants and transfer applicants from community colleges.

University of California Admissions 2022: Analyzing the Trends

So, why did the University of California receive such competitive numbers? The test blind policy is a clear answer. Another reason is that because of the pandemic the school geared its marketing and outreach efforts toward broader communities. Having information sessions and access to admissions officers online allowed more applicants from around the country and around the world to learn more about the University of California. The pandemic had an effect on the applications that were turned in too. UC Irvine reported that a larger number of applicants this year submitted transcripts with pass/no pass marks rather than letter grades.

Even though the acceptance rates have not been released, more application numbers naturally lead to a lower acceptance rate. Because of the limited seats and higher number of applications, we can make an educated guess that the acceptance rates fell at all of the UC schools. Only the most qualified and best-fit students received acceptance letters. There was a 32% increase in the number of students who ranked in the top 9% of their high school class at UCLA in the applications received alone.

At InGenius we have a team of admissions experts who have also analyzed the data from how our students fared at the University of California admissions 2022. We saw significantly fewer students admitted to UCs in general than we have in previous years, confirming that the schools have gotten more competitive. There are no longer things such as targets and safeties. Nobody’s admission is guaranteed. Students who would have been admitted to UC Santa Barbara, San Diego, Irvine, and Davis in the past might not have gotten as many acceptances this year because the UCs seem more focused on yield. Notably, UC Irvine waitlisted a lot of students and seems to be leveraging the waitlist more for filling actual seats—the waitlist is already moving at UCI!

How to Best Prepare Your Application for the University of California

If you have your eyes on one or more of the UCs the trends for the University of California admissions 2022 might seem daunting. In order to best prepare your application, focus on school and make sure your interests and goals come through in your application. Now that they are test blind, the UCs evaluate students based on their academic trajectory as well as whether they have activities related to their academic goals. You should also pursue extracurricular activities academic in nature and if you’re a STEM student make sure you’ve demonstrated your preparation and readiness in mathematics. School context is also important—AOs evaluate your academic achievement in the context of your school; students with similar profiles etc.

It is therefore important to provide as much context and information as possible when it comes to your application. Students used the additional information section to contextualize academic plans, expand on preparation, and discuss individual impacts of COVID because it helped admissions officers learn more about them. Don’t hesitate to fill out the optional sections about your parents or family members. Every little bit of information helps. You should also build a strong rapport with your high school guidance counselor. Berkeley contacted some counselors seeking information not available on the school profile! UC Riverside, which uses a fixed weight point methodology, adjusted their scoring process to give more weight to GPA so remember that your GPA matters immensely.

It was certainly an unprecedented year when it came to the University of California admissions 2022. We hope our presentation of the data as well as analysis can help you understand the current landscape of things as well as help you prepare best for a future shot at one of these colleges. Good luck!

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