Enrollment Deadline Moved Up
Increase in Freshmen Applications Prompts Changes
February 9, 2005 5:22 PM
An increase in freshman applications has ratcheted up pressure on the Office of Enrollment Planning & Management to fill a record demand for admissions.
To cope with this, last fall the University of California raised the minimum grade point average for incoming freshmen from 2.8 to 3.0.
Although there are no plans to do anything similar at SF State, the application deadline has been moved up to deal with the extra pressure on admissions. The freshman deadline closed Jan. 16, and for transfer students it is now Feb. 28. Previously, applications were accepted through May.
“What we have now in terms of applications is just phenomenal,” said Jo Volkert, associate vice president of the Office of Enrollment Planning & Management. “At the freshman level, we have over 4,000 more applications than we did last year at this time.”
High school graduates with a GPA of 3.0 or above don’t need to take the SAT, Volkert said. However, she still recommended that incoming freshmen take the test, as a good score can allow some students to bypass certain remedial requirements.
Complicating academic planning is the persistent budget shortfall California has faced in recent years.
Jean Ross, the executive director of the California Budget Project, called higher education "a ticket to the middle class," while commenting on Gov. Schwarzenegger's budget last month. The project is a non-profit and through independent analysis, it aims to improve the well being of middle- and low-income earners.
In a Feb. 1 report, the project’s associate director, Barbara Baran, wrote that while higher education didn't take a major hit in the budget, the state needs to be concerned with the rising cost of universities and that residents need to ensure that a growing percentage of Californians have access to a university.
Baran said increased tuition is one of the reasons why higher education fared well in the governor’s budget compared to health benefits for the aged and disabled, which suffered major cuts.
Last year the governor said the state would grow its way out of its budget shortfall. Yet even he now admits that the gap between projected revenues and spending commitments cannot be bridged. State leaders said that the only way to resolve the shortfall is to cut spending, raise taxes or some combination of the two.
However, an opinion poll taken the week of Jan. 23 by the Public Policy Institute Of California showed just one-third of Californians approved of the governor's plans for education funding and that two-thirds favor boosting the top bracket of the state income tax to help balance the budget. Yet it was an agreement worked out between Gov. Schwarzenegger and the CSU and UC systems, known as The Higher Education Compact, that resulted in the present policy.
Volkert said that CSUs and UCs agreed to tighten their belts this year for increased funding next year, but negotiations over the budget continue until summer, so she does not know how it will impact admissions.
Students are applying to eight or ten schools, noted Volkert, so SF State does not know what enrollment is going to be until they notify admissions if they are coming or not.
Even before the current year's fiscal problems, John Burks, chairman of the SF State journalism department, advised journalism majors in a letter to brace for budget cuts that would touch every department. He cautioned students that if they wanted to stay on track to graduate on time, they should enroll in as many courses in their major as their schedule permits. He further explained because of the state budget, multiple sections of course offerings had been reduced to two or just one.
Burks also said that students should sign up early, yet explained, "There's no secret pass to sign up ahead (of assigned priority registration), just don't put it off."
Trason Young, a junior majoring in technical writing, receives financial aid that funds his tuition and books. But to cover living expenses he is negotiating a work/study tutoring job through Student Services. He cautions those who avail themselves of grant opportunities to be proactive.
"Don't assume once you fill out a form you're OK," said Young. "People at an office lose paperwork or claim you filled out a form incorrectly. You really have to put in a certain amount of your own effort."
Despite the struggling economy, 28,791 students enrolled at SF State this year, just slightly less than last year’s record number.
The good news, said Volkert, is that the decline has not affected diversity.
"Our numbers have maintained the same level," Volkert said, "In fact, this year's figures look like they're up in all ethnic groups."
Yet she urges those high school students who have already been accepted not to get a case of "senioritis." Many freshmen are admitted based on grades from their junior year. But Volkert minces no words when she advises students not to slack off.
"The school will rescind an acceptance if you fail to keep up your grades in your core area," she said.
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