The University of California, Merced, received more than 18,000 applications from California high school seniors seeking admission for Fall 2017, a 10.1 percent increase from the previous year, or the largest percent increase in the UC system.
The vast majority of the 21,509 applications to UC Merced were from California students, according to preliminary data released Dec. 19 by the UC Office of the President. UC Merced and UC Irvine had the highest increases in total first-year student applications, with each experiencing a 9.3 percent increase over last year’s total — triple the systemwide growth rate of 3.1 percent.
“It’s extremely rewarding to see our campus continue to attract a record number of qualified students for admission,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “We believe the numbers are reflective of the strides we’re making in research and innovation, and the transformative educational opportunities we offer our students.”
The increasing demand comes at a time when UC Merced is beginning to be recognized on a national level.
Earlier this year, UC Merced became the youngest institution with an R2 designation in the Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education, the second-highest classification for American research universities, signifying the campus as a “doctoral-granting university with higher research activity.” The campus also made its debut in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges guide, which evaluates major institutions with national reach, advanced degree programs and deep commitments to research.
It ranked No. 8 among all public schools nationally in GoodCall’s “2016 Best Schools for Scholarships.” According to U.S. News and World Report, UC Merced student loan debt is 43 percent less than the national average.
This recognition of research excellence, academic distinction and student success has helped increase the campus’s visibility.
“The strong application growth demonstrates that Merced continues to be a destination for students seeking outstanding possibilities in undergraduate research, internships and degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Jill Orcutt said. “It is also an indication that what we are doing to reach students statewide to help increase college-going rates is working.”
UC Merced’s applications from California high school seniors reflect the campus’s diversity, with all ethnic groups showing an increase in applicants over Fall 2016. The number of American Indian applicants showed the largest growth, with a 16.4 percent increase. Hispanic applicants rose by 15.5 percent and African-American applicants by 13.4 percent, each the largest such increase within the system.
More than two-thirds of UC Merced’s in-state applicants (62.8 percent) come from families that meet the state’s definition of low-income, and 67.2 percent are first-generation college students. Both percentages are the highest in the UC system and a reflection of the campus’s commitment to equity and access to a research university experience for California residents.
The preliminary data does not include transfer applications, because the deadline for these applications was extended to Jan. 3.
UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university built in the 21st century. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports highly qualified first-generation and underserved students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students.