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California students: A world-class UC education is within reach

Achieve UC

Credit: Elena Zhukova

Students at Deer Valley High School, one of the East Bay's largest and site of an Achieve UC visit during November 2016.

The University of California set records this past fall with the largest single year increase in enrollment of California resident students since World War II. 

But it's not done yet. It plans to boost California enrollment numbers in the coming fall, too, and is reaching out to high school students across the state to assure them that a UC education is attainable and affordable.

Over the next four months, UC leaders and other university representatives will meet with students and families at schools, churches and community groups at more than 150 events designed to help students prepare for and apply to UC.

Janet Napolitano speaks at Deer Valley High School.
Credit: Elena Zhukova

“We want every hardworking student to know that we have a place for them on one of our campuses,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. “Our doors are open and we are committed to opening them even wider — with a plan to welcome thousands more California students in the coming years.”

The visits are part of Achieve UC, an effort launched by Napolitano to expand the number and diversity of California students enrolled at UC’s nine undergraduate campuses.

The events focus on communities with significant numbers of students who are or could be eligible to attend UC, but have relatively low application numbers. The goal is to make sure that every California student who dreams of a UC education knows that there are resources available to help them get there — and generous financial aid to help cover the cost.

Napolitano, campus chancellors and other senior leaders will be on hand to deliver the message personally, but students will also have opportunities to attend workshops and meet with admissions advisers about preparing, applying and paying for a UC education.

The university has one of the most generous financial aid programs in the nation, but too few California families are aware of the fact. More than half of California undergraduates pay no tuition, and three-quarters pay less than full tuition.

“When students see the ample financial aid that is available and compare out-of-pocket costs, many are surprised to learn that an education at the best public university in the world is also one of the most affordable options available,” Napolitano said.

Advisers — many of them UC grads who grew up in the communities they will be visiting — will be available to review students’ progress in completing the courses they need to be eligible for a UC education and to offer tips on writing strong applications.

Participants will also learn about the college-going process, from taking the SAT to budgeting and applying for financial aid. Admissions representatives will share tips for putting together strong UC applications and responses to UC personal insight questions.

Students who aren’t ready for a four-year college will learn about new transfer pathways that have simplified the process of getting to UC from community college — a route taken by one out of every three UC graduates.

“A UC degree opens many doors, and its value only increases over time,” Napolitano said. “You do your part: work hard, take advantage of leadership opportunities and push yourself to take challenging classes. And no matter who you are, where you come from or how much money you and your family have, we’ll do our part to help you get here.”