As California becomes increasingly diverse, it is more important than ever for public universities to reflect the communities we serve.
UCLA has undertaken innovative efforts to increase the diversity of our campus and access to education because our location and our mission require it.
Central to these efforts was Chancellor Block’s creation four years ago of a coordinated and focused enrollment management unit. For UCLA, this was an entirely new approach to admitting and enrolling an incoming class each year.
Led by Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, our vice provost for enrollment management, the office has revolutionized the way UCLA engages first-generation college applicants, underrepresented students and military veterans while working within the parameters of a state law that prohibits consideration of race or gender in the admissions process. Its goal is to interact with students and their families right where they live — especially those in underserved communities — and to encourage them to consider UCLA.
Through new programs, including in Bakersfield and California’s Central Valley, we now reach prospective students in every corner of the state, the nation and the world.
- A partnership between UCLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District enables our campus to work directly with 28 schools in our city’s underserved communities. The UCLA–LAUSD Collaborative has already improved college-going rates at those schools and has helped students become better prepared to be competitive in UCLA’s admissions process.
- Through a new relationship with a group of churches located primarily in Southern California’s Inland Empire, UCLA provides college preparatory information and on-campus experiences to high-performing students.
- The Starbucks Initiative sends UCLA recruiters to coffee shops throughout Los Angeles to meet potential students in their communities.
These efforts and others have already borne fruit. In July, Forbes magazine ranked UCLA the nation’s second most diverse university and reported that we have the largest proportion of Latino students among the top schools.
The students admitted to this fall’s freshman class are the most ethnically, socioeconomically and geographically diverse in UCLA’s history: 19 percent Chicano/Latino, 5 percent African-American, 29 percent white and 41 percent Asian-American. Notably, the number of admitted students from traditionally underrepresented groups increased as well — by 18 percent for Chicano/Latino students and by 24 percent for African-American students. And among transfer students who were admitted for the fall, 30 percent are from underrepresented groups.
But diversity is not just about race or ethnicity. It is also critical that UCLA provide access to students from all economic backgrounds. According to the latest U.S. News & World Report college rankings, of any of the top 25 universities, UCLA has the largest percentage of recipients of Pell Grants (39 percent), which are generally given to students from low-income families. In addition, about one-third of our graduates are the first in their families to earn degrees from a four-year college.
Our students are also diverse geographically. Bringing together an enormously wide range of ideas, perspectives and cultural contexts enhances all students’ educational experiences at UCLA and prepares students to live and work in a global society. The students admitted for 2016 were chosen from a pool of more than 119,000 applicants — the most of any four-year college in the U.S. — and hail from nearly every county in California, and from 49 states and 81 countries.
UCLA is also a destination for students from around the world who are pursuing graduate and professional degrees. Here, too, we have continued our progress in diversifying our student population: Of the new graduate students arriving this fall, 45 percent are women, and 18 percent are from underrepresented groups.
UCLA will continue to prioritize increasing diversity and access as part of our exceptionally competitive admissions process. We will continue to encourage highly competitive students from underrepresented groups to prepare for and apply to UCLA. We will work hard to make sure they carefully consider UCLA and, ultimately, that they choose to join and enrich our Bruin community.