February 24, 2023

UCR among system leaders in applications increase

Riverside credits stepped-up recruitment, marketing for defying trend of decreases among other UCs

Author: J.D. Warren
February 24, 2023

UC Riverside registered the second largest year-to-year increase in freshmen applications for fall 2023 among University of California campuses, setting a new campus record for applications. Numbers released Friday by the UC system show that overall applications were down 2.2%, while UCR showed a 3.7% increase, with 2,097 additional applicants than during the fall 2022 cycle. 

During a season of overall system decreases, UCR was among only three UC campuses to register a freshmen-applications increase. UCR finished No. 2 behind Santa Cruz, and ahead of No. 3 UC Irvine. Those were the only three UCs to show an increase. 

UCR received a total of 56,462 freshmen applications, breaking the previous record set this past year, when 54,365 freshmen applications were received. In only three years, freshmen applications to UCR have increased by almost 10%. That tracks with admissions goals the campus and the UC system have set for Riverside. 

The UCs received 245,768 unduplicated applications — 206,405 for freshman admission and 39,363 for transfer admission — for fall 2023. Unduplicated means the UC numbers factor for the same person applying to multiple UC campuses. Following two consecutive cycles of record-breaking undergraduate application growth, many UC campuses experienced slight declines, particularly among international and out-of-state freshmen and transfer applications. The UCs saw a 2.2 percent decrease — 5,411 fewer applications — in total applications from the fall 2022 admissions cycle, when the university system received 251,179 total applications — 210,840 freshmen and 40,339 transfers. UCR’s total applications for fall 2023, including freshmen and transfers, are 68,058.

UCR registered the largest percentage out-of-state freshmen application increase among the nine UC undergraduate campuses, with 315 more out-of-state applicants, an 11% increase. Systemwide, out-of-state freshmen applications were down 5%.

UCR and Santa Cruz were the only two UCs with an increase in freshmen international student applications; UCR had 415 international freshman applicants more than in the 2022 cycle, a 7.2% increase; Santa Cruz had 655, for a 10% increase. Systemwide, applications among freshmen international student were down 6%.

Emily Engelschall, associate vice chancellor of Enrollment Services, attributed UCR’s application increases in part to robust recruitment efforts and a digital marketing campaign. She said the admissions team increased its in-person visits by 13% this past year.

“Students, families, and counselors were eager to finally be able to engage with us in-person this year in their local communities and schools.  Additionally, Undergraduate Admissions saw a surge in interest in campus tours.  When people are able to come to campus and feel the energy of the Highlander community first-hand, it’s an easy decision to apply to UCR,” Engelschall said.

Transfer applications across the UC system were down 2.4%, from 40,339 to 39,363. That showing is indicative of a statewide and nationwide decrease in community college enrollment. Since 2019, enrollment in California community colleges has dropped 18%. UC San Diego was the only campus with an increase in transfer applications, and its increase was 1.3%. UCR saw 11,596 fall 2023 transfer applications to 2022’s 12,468.

In other highlights for UCR, the number of applicants from underrepresented communities — Black, American Indian, Latino, and Pacific Islander – increased for fall 2023. And 54% of overall applicants from Pell Grant — low-income — families was second in the system behind Merced, which showed 57% of applicants from low-income families.

“The University of California received an impressive number of applications for admission from prospective students this year. This is a testament to the University’s continued reputation as a premier center of higher learning,” said Michael V. Drake, M.D., president of the University of California. “A UC education prepares students for the future, positions them for expanded opportunities and encourages them to have a positive impact on their communities.”

According to the most recent fall 2023 applications report from The Common App, overall applications to California universities increased 7%. The Common App is a utility with several hundred member campuses that undergraduate students can use to apply to multiple colleges and universities.

Additional details about the University of California’s fall 2023 applicants to the University can be found here.

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