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UCLA, Irvine Get Record Number Of Freshman Applications Despite (Because Of?) Pandemic

Kyla Monette sits at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus before the COVID-19 crisis. (Andrew Cullen for LAist)
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Freshman applications for UCLA next fall reached record highs, even though the applications were due before there was any word on when or whether UC schools would return to in-person learning.

An additional 30,500 students applied for the Fall 2021 semester compared to the previous year, including large increases in applications from Black and Latinx students, according to a report released this morning.

"We were very ecstatic about the diversity of the pool of applicants," said Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA’s vice provost for enrollment management.

Copeland-Morgan attributes the increase to a mix of aggressive outreach to communities underrepresented at UCLA and the fact that UC schools didn't require applicants to submit standardized test scores this year.

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"Students who are amazing in their academic achievements and their leadership achievements but may not shine in their test scores, I think those students felt more confident about applying to UCLA," Copeland-Morgan said. "And we're glad."

2019-2020 SAT and ACT deadlines. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

No Standardized Test — Possibly Forever

In May, the UC Board of Regents voted to suspend the requirement to submit standardized test scores to be considered for admission. And then in September, a judge ruled in a lawsuit brought by students with disabilities that UC campuses couldn't consider test scores for admission even if submitting them was optional.

In the meantime, UC Regents voted to look into developing their own test. But earlier this month, two expert panels tasked with studying that possibility determined it wasn't feasible. That leaves the test-optional policy in place until 2025, at a minimum, and possibly forever.

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Whether or not campuses may opt to let students submit test scores voluntarily in the future may depend on the outcome of the disability lawsuit.

Applications Up For Black, Latinx Students Across UC System

Applications are up this year across the UC system, for in-state, out-of-state, international and transfer students. Of note:

  • Systemwide and at UCLA and UC Irvine, Black Californians made up a slightly higher percentage of overall in-state freshman applicants than last year (7% compared to 6% last year overall and for UCLA; and 6% compared to 5% last year for UC Irvine).
  • Latinx students from California also made up a larger percentage of the fall 2021 in-state applicant pool at UCLA: 34% compared to 32% last year.
  • 47% of applicants to UC Irvine would be the first in their families to attend college, according to a news release from the school.

Copeland-Morgan said that despite the surge in applications — and unlike all eight Ivy League schools, which pushed back their decision dates under a flood of applications — UCLA plans to meet its April 1 deadline to let prospective students know whether they'd been accepted.

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