November 17, 2018

UC Schools Have Become More Selective

It's gotten harder to get into University of California schools: not just for your friends who were seniors last year, but for everyone.

I've included data below for the high school graduating classes of 2017 and 2018 with the information for UC Berkeley and UCLA highlighted.

While GPA ranges across the board have increased only slightly, test scores are consistently higher, and the percentage of applicants admitted has consistently moved lower from 2017 to 2018.

UC Data: Class of 2017

UC Data: Class of 2018

Audrey Slaughter was kind enough to share a Compass Prep article with me that breaks down ACT and SAT test score data from the past few years.

Compass finds that median scores haven't changed much, but more students are have been scoring at the high end of the range (1400-1600):
At the most competitive colleges, high test scores can be viewed as “necessary but not sufficient.” It is extremely difficult to gain admission to Stanford with a low SAT score, but getting a great score is far from a guarantee of admission. The net effect of the growth at the top ranges is to make a high score more essential but less sufficient.

After the dust settles each April, we often hear that “this was the worst year ever.” For 2018, that assessment feels fair. ACT and SAT scores at colleges have trended up over time, but it’s not simply higher scores that create anxiety — it’s also the added unpredictability. The combination of increased applicant numbers at competitive colleges and a higher percentage of top scores magnify the uncertainty that students experience.

So How Do I Get In?

In the end, grades, test scores, and a college degree itself are only imperfect measures of what really matters: your dedication, creativity, and life goals. Schools like Stanford know that, and they're looking for much more than just great numbers on your application.

Does your life thus far show that you have the potential to win a Nobel Prize or found your own company? That's what schools are looking for. Those are the things that get an alma mater noticed.

As a nation, we're obsessing more and more about the scoring well on the things that measure success without necessarily getting better at achieving success itself.

Test scores and grades matter because those are the things we've chosen to measure - but don't forget to live a life of dedication and meaning. It's that life that will get you involved in amazing extracurriculars and help you write essays that will get noticed.

Yes, UC schools have become more selective. Become the kind of person they would like to select.


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