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Summer 2003
Getting In
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UCLA’S SELECTIVITY comes as a surprise to many — selectivity that increases as applications soar. “The combination of excellence and affordability is a very powerful draw for our students,” says Lifka. Two decades ago, 8,814 students applied and 63 percent were admitted; 10 years ago, 24,986 applied and 46 percent gained admission; in 2003, 44,971 applied and 23 percent were admitted. UCLA’s numbers have become comparable to those of the nation’s most elite universities.

Some of UCLA’s own faculty members find the heightened selectivity to be a sticking point — especially when their own children are unable to gain admission.

“You have to remember,” says Stolzenbach, “that in world terms, the students who apply by and large are the top students from across the entire state. They all look very good. At the school where I used to teach [MIT], they called it ‘slicing the bologna.’ Because you’re taking this rarified group and then you are slicing them even thinner.”

Another sticking point for some is the issue of “legacy” admissions — or at UC, the lack thereof. Many private schools have wiggle room within their admissions policies to admit the offspring of alumni. Last year at Yale, for instance, 16 percent of the 1,300 new students enrolled were legacies. To the dismay of some, there is no such tradition in the UC. Says Peter Hayashida ’88, assistant vice chancellor for external affairs, “Information on parental status as an alumnus or donor is neither solicited through the admissions process nor considered in making a decision on the student’s application.”

And the written policy of the UC further states that “admissions motivated by concern for financial, political or other such benefit to the university” are expressly prohibited.

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