More than 1,000 Freshmen Choose UC Merced

Student Statements of Intent to Register for Fall 2008 Classes

Increase by 46% Compared with Fall 2007

MERCED - More than 1,000 freshmen have declared their intent to register for classes at the University of California, Merced, this fall, an increase of 46 percent compared with the previous year.

As of 9 a.m. today (May 12), the UC's newest campus has received 1,065 Statements of Intent to Register (SIRs) from first-time freshmen. By this time last year, 731 freshman SIRs had been received. While SIRs are nonbinding, they are generally a reliable indicator of the number of students who plan to enroll in any given year.

In January, University of California officials announced that more than 9,000 freshmen had applied to UC Merced for the fall 2008 semester - the university's largest applicant pool yet.

"We're very pleased to see such an affirming response," Chancellor Steve Kang said. "It's exciting to see so many freshmen around the state choose to join us and become part of building the next great campus in the University of California system."

The priority SIR deadline was May 1 for incoming freshmen, but forms are still coming in. The SIR deadline for transfer students is June 1. So far, 56 transfers have submitted their statements.

Kevin Browne, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management, said campus officials expect to enroll about 900 new students for fall 2008.

Last year, 669 freshmen enrolled for fall 2007, according to the campus' third-week census in September. The number of enrollees is always less than the number of SIRs received, Browne said, adding that now is an uncertain time for many 17- and 18-year-olds.

"Even with some inevitable losses this summer, we expect the fall 2008 class to be the largest in our four-year history."

"This year's strong increase in SIR rates is a powerful recognition of UC Merced's acceptance - acceptance from students, their parents and from high school educators," said Chancellor Kang. "It is also a clear indication that UC Merced is fulfilling one of its key missions by strengthening the college-going culture in the Valley."

According to systemwide statistics released by the University of California Office of the President in mid-April, the number of Central Valley student who have applied to UC campuses has increased 19 percent since UC Merced first opened its doors in 2005 (3,668 in 2005 vs. 4,379 in 2008), and admission rates have increased 21 percent (2,794 in 2005 vs. 3,388 in 2008). However, the rise in applications and admissions among that population is even more dramatic - 41 percent in applications and 45 percent in admissions -- when compared to the statistics from 2004 - when students did not have UC Merced as a choice (3,100 applicants and 2,344 admitted in 2004 vs. 4,379 applicants and 3,388 admitted in 2008).

"At UC Merced, we don't just care about the number of Valley students who choose our campus," Kang said. "We care about the number of Valley students who see a research-based college education within their reach. If eligible students from this area enroll at one of our sister campuses, then we are just as successful as if they had come here."

UC Merced faculty are creating new degree programs on a consistent basis. For instance, anthropology has recently been approved as a major, and the university is planning a school of management and a school of medicine.

Browne said surveys and focus groups indicate that many students choose UC Merced because even as it is growing, with a focus on research, it retains its intimate feel. Students here still have more access to their professors than at most other campuses, and find it easy to create social networks here, he said.

The Visitor's Center, which opened earlier this year, offers a point of entry for campus guests where they can sign up for tours and have questions answered by knowledgeable staffers. April's Bobcat Day, the university's annual open house, drew 2,000 participants.

"The university's efforts to attract more prospective students to campus have put UC Merced on more people's radar," said Browne. "As prospective students hear about the great experiences our Bobcats are having - and then see it for themselves -- they want to be part of it."


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