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UCLA is a top U.S. choice for freshmen

The university's 50,694 applications for fall entry may be the most in the nation. Increased interest from blacks and Latinos pleases officials.

January 25, 2007|Rebecca Trounson | Times Staff Writer

UCLA said Wednesday that 50,694 students have applied for the fall freshman class, up 7.1% from last year. UCLA officials said the figure appeared to show that the campus, as it has for nearly a decade, had attracted more applications than any other university nationwide.

UCLA leaders also said they were happy about an increase in applications from African American and Latino students, two groups considered underrepresented at most University of California campuses and in the UC system as a whole.

UCLA in particular has been under pressure to boost the number of African American students on campus after that figure fell to about 100 for the current freshman class, its lowest level since at least 1973.

The figures out Wednesday, part of UC's annual release of application numbers, showed that 2,444 African American students applied to UCLA for freshman admission in the fall, making up 5% of the school's total of 48,459 U.S. applications. That was up from 2,173 last year, or 4.8% of the total.

Applications from Latino students also rose this year. The UCLA report showed that 8,711 Latinos applied for freshman admission -- 18% of the total applicants -- compared with 7,650, or 16.8%, last year.

UCLA officials were relieved at those figures, especially after reports in the fall that some Los Angeles-area high school counselors had urged black students not to apply, apparently telling the students that the university was not interested in them. In appearances at high schools and letters to counselors, UCLA leaders, including acting Chancellor Norman Abrams, emphasized that was not the case.

On Wednesday, administrators attributed the increases to campus and community efforts to encourage all qualified students -- but underrepresented minority students in particular -- to apply to the Westwood campus.

"We were concerned that the numbers of applications would decrease from African American students," said Janina Montero, UCLA's vice chancellor for student affairs. "The involvement of the community, alumni, students and faculty has been very, very important to make sure those numbers were maintained and have grown proportionately."

The numbers of Asian American (18,563, up from 17,982 last year) and white students (15,424, up from 14,468) applying to UCLA also rose. But the percentage of Asian American applicants fell somewhat as a proportion of the U.S. applicant pool -- from 39.4% for 2006 to 38.3% this year.

The percentage of white applicants was nearly unchanged at 31.7% of the total last year and 31.8% this year.

UCLA this year is using a new "holistic" approach in admissions, one in which all facets of each applicant can be considered at once by admissions reviewers. The new model, which will make UCLA's admissions process more like UC Berkeley's, was spurred partly by concerns about the dwindling numbers of black students, but UCLA's acting chancellor and faculty leaders say they think the change will also lead to fairer admissions for all applicants.

The campus has set an enrollment target for the fall freshman class of 4,675, admissions officials said. Applicants will learn April 1 if they made the cut.

Across the UC system, meanwhile, the number of high school seniors applying for admission in the fall rose 5.3% this year, with 87,213 students hoping to win spots. Those from California students were up 4.7% this year, while international freshman applications jumped more than 20%, according to figures released Wednesday by the UC president's office.

(The figures, which are compiled earlier in January than those released by the campuses, often vary slightly from those reports.)

According to that UC report, the number of freshman applications for 2007 increased for every campus except UC Santa Cruz, where 76 fewer students applied than last year. At UC Irvine, 39,910 students applied, up 4% from last year. At UC Riverside, four more prospective freshmen -- for a total of 19,797 -- applied for 2007 than did last year.

Applications from college students hoping to transfer to one of the university's 10 campuses were down slightly, from 23,943 last year to 23,781 this year.

And UC officials said nearly all students hoping to win admission this year -- 99% -- filed their applications online.

rebecca.trounson@latimes.com

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