January 27, 2021

Pandemic hasn't deterred UCR applicants; new record is set

UCR and other UC campuses defy national trend with uptick in applications

Author: J.D. Warren
January 27, 2021

Defying pandemic-influenced predictions and national trends, the University of California, Riverside has posted record freshman applications for fall 2021.  

A total of 52,263 applications were received for the fall 2021 freshman class. That represents an increase over the previous record of 49,252 for fall 2020. 

It follows the trend of the other eight UC campuses with undergraduate student populations – some of which saw substantial application increases – while defying a national trend. Nationally, applications are down about 8%, according to a November report from The Common Application, a utility that undergraduate students can use to apply to multiple colleges and universities. 

“The applications speak to the determination of our pool of students to earn a degree, despite the hardships presented by the pandemic,” said Thomas M. Smith, UCR’s interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “An expected return to in-person instruction will encourage strong enrollment numbers for the fall, as well.” 

On Jan. 11, UC President Michael V. Drake announced plans to return to a systemwide return to in-person instruction for fall 2021. 

UCR’s transfer applications for fall 2021 increased to 14,435. It’s a significant metric for UCR, as several years ago the campus was among those in the UC system charged with meeting a 2-to-1 freshman-to-transfer ratio. At the time, UCR’s ratio was 4.46-to-1. An all-hands effort the past several years increased transfer applications from 9,458 for fall 2017; 12,039 for fall 2018; 12,147 for fall 2019, 13,639 for fall 2020, and 14,435 for fall 2021.

The full picture of fall 2021 enrollment is a few months away, after students have finalized their decisions – the decision deadline is May 1 for freshman and June 1 for transfers – and enrolled in classes. 

The number of applications to UCR from underrepresented communities, including Black, Latino, American Indian, and Pacific Islander, was on par with last year, at 51% of total freshman applicants and 46% of transfer applicants. Those percentages represented the highest number of underrepresented minority freshman and transfer applicants for any UC campus other than UC Merced. 

UCR’s percentage of undergraduate applicants from first-generation and low-income families was also on par with previous years, with 56% and 51% respectively. Those also represented the second-highest totals – after Merced – among the nine undergraduate UC campuses. 

UCR continues to be the UC leader in serving California residents, a priority stressed by UC administrators, who capped nonresident admissions after years of rising out-of-state student populations. Ninety-six percent of UCR’s enrolled students are California residents.  

Eighty-six percent of UCR’s freshman applicants for fall 2021 are California residents, second only among the campuses to Merced. UCR led the UC system with most California residents among its transfer applicants, with 89%.  

The nine undergraduate UC campuses received a total of 249,855 applications for fall 2021, a 16.1% leap from the past year; 203,700 were freshman applicants and 46,155 were aspiring transfer students.  

The system saw a one-year increase among California freshman applicants of 14,789 applications, or 13%. In total, applications for freshman admission — from both in-state and non-residents — shot up by 31,601, or 18.4 percent. The entire UC system currently educates 226,449 undergraduates. 

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