The Campanile. Credit: Brittany Hosea-Small

High school students continue to apply to UC Berkeley in record numbers, as seen by a 13% increase in freshman applications over last year’s record-breaking number.

This story was first published on Berkeley News

More than 128,100 students applied for acceptance to the fall 2022 freshman class. There was an increase in applications among most racial/ethnic groups, first-generation students whose parents do not have college degrees, and almost all gender identities. 

Officials at the UC Office of the President released freshman and transfer applications data today for all nine of the UC’s undergraduate campuses. The UC system saw a .5% increase in freshman applications and roughly a 13% decrease in transfer applications.

At UC Berkeley, applications from transfer students also dropped 13%, to about 19,300 applicants, likely a result of the California Community Colleges’ pandemic-related decline in enrollment, according to campus admissions officials.

The most significant increases in UC Berkeley applications among freshman and transfer applicants combined included Native American applications, up 50%; Filipinx, up 15%, and Chicanx/Latinx, up about 14%. Regarding gender identity, there was a 134% increase in applicants who identified as genderqueer/gender non-conforming.  

“In a year where we saw application numbers across the nation decline, the entire UC saw increases,” said Olufemi Ogundele, UC Berkeley’s associate vice chancellor of enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admissions. “Here at Berkeley, we saw even more of an increase than our peers. The diversity of our applicant pool continues to be strong, and we remain a top choice for incredibly talented scholars.” 

But a shadow has been cast over this year’s admissions cycle, as UC Berkeley is dealing with a court order that would freeze enrollment to 2020-21 levels, resulting in one-third fewer enrollment seats. That would translate to at least 5,100 fewer offers of admission to freshman and transfer applicants hoping to enroll at UC Berkeley this fall. The campus is exploring all possible options (legal, legislative, and via various alternative enrollment strategies) to try to mitigate the harm.

Ogundele is also concerned about the impact such an order could have on the campus’s broad outreach efforts and its momentum in increasing diversity. To accomplish these goals, UC Berkeley admissions officials have been developing new approaches and strategies for the past few years. The fall 2020 freshman admitted class was the most ethnically diverse in more than 30 years, in terms of the number of underrepresented students offered admission. Fall 2021 admissions numbers met or exceeded the prior year’s success.

Campus officials have vowed to continue to fight for more seats for these applicants through the courts and state legislation. They are keenly aware of how hard these students have studied and worked to submit stellar applications — and that they’v done so during the stresses of a pandemic.

“Considering that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, it’s truly impressive that so many students were able to commit to the college application process,” said Abby Jones, UC Berkeley’s executive director of undergraduate admissions, referring to the record number of applications. “I’m especially pleased about the increases in first-generation applicants and those qualifying for a fee waiver, as we seek to make our admission process more accessible.”

UC Berkeley’s freshman admissions decisions will be announced toward the end of March. Transfer decisions will be posted in mid- to late April.