The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) encourages California State University (CSU) campuses to give priority admission to local prospective students. But not every campus is complying.
San Diego State University (SDSU) recently began turning away local applicants in favor of more qualified students from other regions.
SDSU is not alone. Cal Poly has been turning away local students that would normally qualify at other CSU campuses for years.
Jim Maraviglia, the associate vice provost for marketing and enrollment development at Cal Poly, said the university looks at more than just a student’s address.
“We have a comprehensive evaluation here at Cal Poly,” Maraviglia said. “The variables are not only academic, but leadership and extracurricular activities are considered as well, especially if it is major related.”
Maraviglia also said while looking at academics, Cal Poly admissions looks at the academic achievement in all four years of high school whereas most other CSU’s only look at two.
When it comes to locals-only treatment, Cal Poly only gives a bonus consideration. San Luis Obispo residents still must fit the eligibility requirements of the university, which go beyond those at other CSUs.
Although Cal Poly claims to not give local priority, 70 percent of the San Luis Obispo High School students who applied to Cal Poly were offered admission, compared to 32 percent of the overall freshman applicant pool last year, according to Maraviglia.
“The place where (students) went to school plays a role in admission to Cal Poly, but it is just not as big as it is at other CSUs,” Maraviglia said.
Erik Fallis, media relations specialist for the California State University, said the reason CSUs like Cal Poly and SDSU started turning away local students was because of impaction.
“There has been system wide impaction at (SDSU and Cal Poly),” Fallis said. “There are more people applying as a whole than there are seats available.”
The number of first time freshman applying to Cal Poly for example, has increased by 6.8 percent, according to the Cal Poly Fact Book. Out of 33,627 applicants, only 3,524 students were admitted to the university this fall.
That being said, Cal Poly and SDSU have become stricter on who is admitted — meaning local qualified students are turned away and those who fit enhanced criteria are accepted instead.
Food science junior Kathleen Phi said it is a good thing that Cal Poly uses a more complex system of evaluation when admitting students.
“It shouldn’t depend on whether or not a student lives close to campus if they should get in,” Phi said. “It should be based on their academic success.”
Phi said by having enhanced requirements, Cal Poly benefits from having more qualified students on campus.
When the CSUs were created, the goal was to give local students an advantage because some are place bound by family obligations and existing jobs, Fallis said.
Twenty-one other CSU campuses are still giving priority to locals, but the LAO fears that, since SDSU has begun accepting non-locals over locals, other campuses may follow suit.
As the demand for admission to CSUs increases and funding decreases, programs and other CSU campuses might become as impacted as Cal Poly and SDSU.
At this time, the high demand for programs at Cal Poly makes for stricter admission screenings and reviews necessary.
“Because of impaction, locals who meet the CSU criteria are not getting into places like SDSU and Cal Poly,” Fallis said. “There is still an advantage for locals, but only if they are above the basic admission requirements.”
Eligible California residents are also having to compete with out-of-state candidates as well. The amount of non-residents enrolled at Cal Poly has increased from 7 percent of the student population in Fall 2006, to the current 11 percent.
Fallis said the bottom line is that all of these changes occurred because of the budget cuts.
“You cannot look at this situation separate from the budget issues,” Fallis said. “Impaction exists because the state does not provide the CSUs with enough funds to give all qualified students access.”