Admission Jitters at Cal State University Campuses

Thousands of California high school seniors are panicking right now because they’re worried that they won’t be attending a California State University campus in the fall.

The Cal State system happens to be the largest in the country. In fact, the number of students attending the 23 Cal State campuses exceeds the number of people living in Kansas City or Fort Worth.

California teenagers, as an article in Inside Higher Ed observes, are petrified because the Cal State system has moved the admission goal posts. It used to be that students with a certain GPA and test scores gained automatic admission to the schools. Essentially, teens in the top third of their high school class were shoe-ins for admission, but not anymore.

With Cal State universities reeling from unrelenting state budget cuts, administrators are shrinking the number of students they accept.  This is happening at the same time that the Cal State campuses are a more popular destination than ever before. As of the Nov. 30 admission deadline, the Cal State schools had received 419,00 applications, which represents a 19% increase from last year.

Two out of three applicants received acceptance letters during the last admission season, but that percentage will surely drop. No one knows yet how many students will be turned away.

My nephew Jack, who lives up in the San Francisco Bay area, is one of those worried high school seniors. He had always felt confident about his chances at schools like Sonoma State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but not anymore.

With the application deadline for Cal State schools passed, Jack and hundreds of thousands of other students will be waiting months for their admission verdicts. In the meantime, I suggested to Jack that he consider applying to some private schools too. This is definitely the year to cast a wide net regardless of what state you live in.

The good news is that while Cal State and the more glamorous University of California system are spurning applicants at historic rates, there are plenty of private schools that would love to accept more Californians. Below you’ll find some links to posts about finding great schools.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also write a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch.

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