What Really Happened at UC Irvine?

August 15, 2017

Recently, UC Irvine announced that it was cancelling around 400 spots in its freshman class due to overcrowding. Only a week later, they changed their mind.

 

Let's read between the lines.

 

Do you really think that a 25,000-student university would struggle for months, unable to find rooms for a few hundred students, announce ashamedly that a horrible mistake had been made, then just days later say, "Never mind. We figured it out."

 

We don't think so, either.

 

We believe that the California universities are actually looking for more out-of-state applicants. Over the years, UC has been pushing its several schools to students who live outside of California. It started with UCLA and Berkeley, but a few years ago, they announced that those two schools would no longer increase the number of admitted out-of-staters. Then, this Spring, UC announced again that it would restrict the percentage of nonresident students to 18% at five of its nine undergraduate campuses, including UC Irvine. 

 

Why would they do this? National rankings are based upon algorithms, and one of the most important variables in the U.S. News algorithm is geographic diversity. More out-of-staters literally equates to a better ranking.

 

That 18% cap? Nonresidents currently make up only 16.5% of the system, and the top 4 UC schools have been accepting more than 20%. Obviously, there's room for out-of-staters in the other 5 universities.

 

Perhaps what the UC system was saying – using UC Irvine as its mouthpiece – isn't "We ran short of dorm rooms." Maybe what they're really trying to do is scare non-resident applicants into looking at those five UC campuses. Notice how easy they've made it to apply to all of their schools: on the UC application, you can literally check a box to apply to any of the nine universities in the system.

 

In other words, Irvine's temporary cancellation of student spots may turn out to be an effective marketing strategy for the UC regents.

 

Look past UC Berkeley and UCLA, and you'll find opportunities in the UC system.

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