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UC San Diego Admits Record 52,946 First-Year And Transfer Students

Students walk on UC San Diego campus in this undated image.
Milan Kovacevic
Students walk on UC San Diego campus in this undated image.

UC San Diego admitted a record 40,616 first-year and 12,330 transfer undergraduate students for the fall 2021 quarter out of more than 140,000 applications — the second-most in the nation, it was announced Monday.

UCSD admitted the most transfer students — and the most transfer students from California with 10,177 — among all the University of California campuses. Of the transfer students admitted, more than 5,400 come from a home with a low family income and more than 3,000 are from an "underrepresented group," according to a university statement. More than one-third of first-year students and over half of transfer students admitted to UCSD will be the first in their family to attend a university.

For Arlette Fajardo Rodriguez, a first-generation student from Chula Vista, attending UCSD means being able to pursue a degree in neurobiology and help those who suffer from brain disorders.


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"I am looking forward to meeting like-minded individuals who strive to achieve their goals," said Rodriguez, who received the Chancellor's Associates Scholarship and plans to enroll this fall. "I would like to surround myself with positivity and success, something I feel I have lacked throughout my life experience."

However, the massive influx of students has placed a strain on an already competitive housing market. More than 3,100 students are on a waitlist for campus housing, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, among those nearly 1,900 graduate students. The other 1,267, nearly all of whom are sophomores, are on a separate list. All of the university's 17,536 beds have been claimed, the U-T reported, leaving thousands of students to find other housing arrangements.

This local growth matches with an 11% jump systemwide in freshman UC admissions over 2020, rising to 132,353 from 119,054. Admission of California freshmen reached an all-time high this year with 84,223 students, an increase of 5.34% over the 79,953 from 2020. Students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups comprise 43% of admitted California freshmen, the highest proportion of an incoming undergraduate class and the greatest number in UC history at 36,462.

Newly admitted students, as well as returning students, will be invited to attend lectures in-person, resume Division 1 Athletic games, participate in peer-led tutoring sessions, and conduct research alongside faculty members. The university's Return to Learn program — which employs tactics such as vaccination, self-administered COVID-19 testing and wastewater monitoring — has been one reason the campus community has posted relatively low positivity rates, according to UCSD officials.


"Over the past year our university has proactively responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to enable our students to resume classes, research opportunities and social activities in-person this fall," said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. "We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of talented students to UC San Diego who will bring strong problem-solving capabilities, diverse worldviews and a renewed zest for learning."

This year, 35% of UCSD's admitted first-year students are from an underrepresented group, a growth of 8% since 2020. Among historically underrepresented first-year applicants from California, the campus admitted 13.7% more Black students and 12.6% more Native American students than the previous year.

UCSD also admitted 6,449 — 23.2% more — first-year students who identify as Latino. This represents 30% of all first-year students admitted for fall 2021, up from 23% of all first-year students admitted last year, fall 2020. A total of 2,527 transfer students who identify as Latino were also admitted, comprising 26% of all transfer student admits.

Additionally, nearly half — 46% — of all undergraduate students admitted for the fall quarter come from low-income households.

Students returning to campus will find significant changes, which include 400 SPIN bikes and scooters to help them navigate the campus, three miles of new protected bike lanes, a campus Target store, an 11,000-square-foot craft center offering everything from ceramics to surfboard shaping, and new artwork, restaurants and undergraduate housing options.

In November, the campus will open two trolley stops on the UC San Diego Blue Line, connecting the campus to downtown and all the way to the border. The additions are designed to accommodate the growth of the campus.