By Christopher Mendoza | from the Titan Template Hercules Middle/High School Hercules, CA/Contra Costa USD – student media from hsj.com
6/7/2010 - Hercules High School senior Justine Betschart is like any other determined and open-minded student. After four years, she has attained a 4-plus GPA, remained active in the Interact club and established and developed a tutoring program for elementary students. Unlike her many counterparts in the nation, however, she is part of the ever-decreasing elites accepted to first class universities like the one on her sweatshirt, University of California, Los Angeles.
Countless colleges, including Harvard University, the University of Miami and Duke University are capping or cutting enrollment due to a loss of grants and other funds in the current recession.
The most local and noticeable impact is on the UC system, which last year reduced enrollment of California-resident freshmen by 6 percent, or about 2,300 students. It is expected to shrink enrollment further this year even though a record number of applicants applied for admission this fall.
"If we continue to enroll the same number of students as we have in the past, we risk affecting the quality of education for our current students," said Nina Robinson, UC director of student policy.
In addition, the California State University system faced $564 million in budget cuts last year. CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed has agreed to slash enrollment by more than 40,000 students from its current 450,000 students, even as demand to attend the CSU continues to rise.
"Last year, we declared system-wide impaction and said we were going to reduce enrollment by 10,000 students that we did not receive any funding for by the state," Reed said in a press release. "By spring, we will reach that total, and project an even larger enrollment decrease for fall 2010. This reduction in access is the direct result of the almost $600 million that has been cut from our budget. You cannot see a 20 percent drop in revenue and serve the same number of students."
Countless statements from public and private colleges around the nation are projecting budget enrollment cuts up until 2014.
Despite smaller freshman classes, colleges are seeing a sharp increase in their pool of applicants, especially those seeking financial aid.
UC Irvine Davis has seen approximately a 2 percent increase in applicants while UC Santa Barbara is up 4.5 percent, Harvard is up 6 percent, and Duke is up 12 percent in applications. As an effect, colleges are placing more students on waiting lists to view the entire spectrum of applicants. To offset this outcome, many students try to apply for colleges they will likely be accepted to.
"Students should apply to back-ups. However, they should first apply to a four-year college and see if they are accepted," said Alaina Krystec, a Hercules High school counselor.
Betschart applied to UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, UC Davis and UC San Diego as back-ups.
The increase in waiting lists and rejections letters due to an ailing economy is the reality of college admissions. Some analysts are worried that individuals who are rich and can pay tuitions have an advantage in admissions. Betschart, however, wants colleges to know her determination and academic attributes.
"I wanted to make sure that the colleges I applied to understood the time I put into school and extracurricular activities. I also made it clear that I started my own tutoring service all my own, which added to my already hectic schedule," Betschart said. "Overall, I wanted colleges to know that I am a student who can take on a heap load of work, all the while with a huge smile on my face because I truly enjoy everything I do."