After more than a decade of robust growth, applications to the University of California from would-be freshmen dipped for the second year in a row while those from transfer students continued to rise, according to preliminary UC data released Tuesday.
Freshman applications fell across the board — from Californians and students from other states and countries — to 172,099, a 5.4% decline since 2018. The decline hit five of the nine undergraduate campuses at Los Angeles, Davis, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Merced.
The number of transfer students aiming to enroll, however, grew to 43,063, a 4.8% increase over 2018.
Experts said the decline in first-year applicants may signal a reality check among high school students who are daunted by the growing competition and cost of a UC freshman seat and are instead opting for a more affordable community college pathway. A cause rooted in demographics, namely a decline in the number of college-age students that has already begun hitting Northeastern states, is not expected to peak in California until about 2025, according to Nathan D. Grawe, a Carleton College professor of economics and social sciences.
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