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Cal State to Curb Spring Admission

Citing budget cuts, only five of 23 campuses will accept all who qualify. Plans vary at the others.

August 06, 2003|Stuart Silverstein | Times Staff Writer

Most of the 23 California State University campuses will curtail or eliminate their customary practice of admitting new students in the spring term as a result of spending cuts in the newly signed state budget, university officials said Tuesday.

Cal State officials said only five of their campuses are confident that they can remain open to all qualified midyear applicants.

The action is a prelude to further curbs expected to be put in place for the 2004-05 school year, when the Cal State and University of California systems are under directions from the Legislature to freeze their enrollment levels.

Although University of California campuses enroll relatively few applicants in the middle of the school year, the Cal State system admitted 30,860 new students for the spring term of the 2001-02 academic year, officials said. Many of the midyear entrants were transfers from community colleges.

Richard P. West, Cal State's executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer, said some students will have no choice but to delay their Cal State educations until the fall of 2004. He said where possible, however, Cal State campuses will give preference for midyear admission to students who have completed two years of community college and have no other options for continuing their educations.

The 400,000-plus-student Cal State, the nation's largest public university system, had "a fairly tolerant system with respect to students being able to take whatever they want, whenever they want and to transfer when they want." Now, West said, "it's going to be a more planned process."

But Caitlin R. Gill, vice chairwoman of the California State Student Assn. and a political science major at the Humboldt campus, said she fears that growing numbers of students will put off college studies because of the new admissions restrictions and two rounds of fee increases in the last eight months.

The midyear admissions picture varies among the 23 Cal State schools based on a variety of factors, such as the number of students enrolled for the fall and the number graduating in December.

According to Cal State, the schools keeping their doors fully open for all midyear applicants are the Los Angeles and Dominguez Hills campuses in Southern California, along with San Jose, Hayward and Humboldt in Northern California.

The six campuses shutting their doors to spring admissions all come from the central or southern parts of the state: Pomona, Fullerton, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield. In addition, the California Maritime Academy, which is part of Cal State, will continue its practice of not admitting midyear students.

Another three campuses -- Chico, San Marcos and Stanislaus -- cautioned that they might not be able to accept all qualified spring applicants.

Among the eight remaining campuses, officials said, various admissions restrictions are being adopted for midyear. Officials said Cal State Long Beach, for example, will not accept spring transfers who have completed less than two years of college or those who are seeking a second bachelor's degree. On the other hand, it will continue to accept entering freshmen, transfers with at least two years of college credits and graduate students.

Cal State Northridge will give priority to transfers who have completed at least two years of college but, for the second year in a row, it will not accept new freshmen for the spring term, and it is cutting off all undergraduate applications for the spring by Aug. 31. Margaret Fieweger, Northridge's associate vice president for undergraduate studies, said her campus has been in touch with local high school and community college counselors to make sure students are aware of admissions changes.

A University of California spokesman, Brad Hayward, said his system's eight undergraduate campuses will be making their midyear admissions decisions "cautiously."

But Hayward said the campuses at midyear will admit community college students participating in programs that guarantee transfers to UC schools if they meet specified academic requirements. He said freshmen already accepted to begin studies in the January term will not be affected.

Hayward said that some of the 800 other transfer applicants seeking admission in January could be affected, but that no numbers are available on how many might be turned away.

At Cal State, the admissions curbs reflect a major change for a system whose enrollment has grown about 5% annually the past few years.

Still, even with the midyear curbs on new admissions, enrollment is expected to rise to about 414,000 in the 2003-04 school year because of the large incoming fall class. That is down from a level of 424,000 that was predicted early this year, but up from last year's 408,000.

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