California universities: Influx in applications, decrease in acceptances


Statistics from CHS Naviance

Throughout the month of March, California universities, including the University of California system and the University of Southern California (USC), have released regular admissions decisions. Acceptances from these schools and popular out-of-state universities have been significantly lower than in previous years, affecting current seniors.

The graduating class this year has faced an extremely competitive application process, partially as a result of new test-optional and test-blind policies at many universities. According to Forbes, applications submitted through the Common App, used by over 800 colleges nationwide, increased by 13.2% this year from the 2019-2020 graduating class.

“Nationwide, almost every college reported an increase in applications [this year],” said Robin Lutsky, CHS College and Career Counselor. “[That result] almost definitely can have a straight line to the optional SAT and ACT.”

In addition to the effects of changing standardized testing requirements, this year’s graduating class faced overly full campuses due to excessive enrollment last year. Many universities accepted huge class sizes in the fall of 2021 because of under-enrollment due to COVID-19 in 2020.

“What we’ve heard is that 2020 was a weird year because so many students did defer or just withdraw,” said Lutsky. “And then [in] 2021, [universities] had to make up for that, so there was over-enrollment. The class that suffers the most from an over-enrollment class is the class after it. [Colleges] have to be super cautious because they don’t have the space, they don’t have the beds [and] they don’t have the class sizes.”

Greater numbers of rejections were accompanied by significantly increased waitlists, including at the University of Michigan and the University of Miami, and deferrals. Popular schools such as Northeastern University, USC and New York University offered incoming freshmen spring semester acceptances after a mandatory first semester abroad.

“What seems to be happening more this year is offering students off campus for fall [semester] in Europe,” said Lutsky. “[Colleges tell students to] do [their] semester abroad now as a freshman, go to Ireland or London or Madrid and then come back to [the main] campus in the spring semester.”

In the face of the disappointment and stress of college decisions, the College and Career Counselors encourage CHS students to maintain perspective.

“[My advice is] not to get caught up in [the idea] that the college is what’s going to make you,” said Lutsky. “It’s you that’s going to make you. Any place can be your Yale. It sounds like a dopey, overworked phrase, but where you go is not who you’ll be.”

Specific college admissions data for CHS students can be found on Naviance.