The UC conundrum

September 30, 2010 — by Sabrina Cismas

With the application season in full swing, seniors are faced with the daunting task of mapping out their futures through their decisions of which colleges to apply to. A popular choice has always been to apply to the UCs, but with California’s financial crisis and UC tuition costs on the rise, future graduating classes are expected to stray off the usual beaten path of enrolling at a UC.

Before the recession, tuition for UCs hovered at $10,000-$20,000, but once the reserve funds exhausted, the tuition shot up to $30,000. With California still heading toward the possibility of bankruptcy, and speculation running rampant over whether the UCs will ever be sufficiently funded in the near future, many rumors are circulating that students should consider private colleges over entering the uncertain territory of a UC education.

This fear has made many people ignorant of the reality of the situation. According to the guidance department, 1,068 UC applications were made by the class of 2009, with an acceptance rate of 53 percent. The class of 2010 dropped slightly to 1,021 applications, but 608 of them were still accepted with a total acceptance rate of 54 percent. Furthermore, in the past three years, actual enrollment to UCs have dropped 4 percent, while for private colleges has increased by 6 percent. With a stable UC acceptance rate, but a decreasing number of applications to these schools, UC selectivity is clearly not what is deterring students from enrollment.

Another contributing factor to the lower enrollment is that UCs are losing their image of being the “comfort colleges.” With a respectable education having been provided at the previous cost of just over 10 grand, students who did not want to drown themselves in financial debt after graduating relied on the smaller financial burden of a UC tuition.

Today, however, UC tuition cost is approaching that of private colleges. With the gap between them steadily closing, students are more likely to be less reliant on their UC cushion, and broaden their prospects to include other private colleges such as USC.

The dilemma caused by the financial situation of UCs is the real culprit behind students’ apprehension to enroll at these schools. However, while it is wise of students to do their homework before choosing which college to enroll at, excessive fear based on faulty assumptions can have them missing out at what still remains a good quality education.

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