Talking with Californian University of Oregon students about why they came to Oregon can often yield complaints about California’s higher in-state tuition and academic standards. For Patrick McClellan, a Palo Alto native who attended Mountain View High School in California before going to the UO, these lamentations are nothing new.
“I’ve always heard the rumors that it’s much easier for out-of-state students to get accepted at UC schools,” McClellan said, “and I’ve heard that they are accepting fewer and fewer Californians each year.”
The latest audit of the University of California school system finally gave solid proof of these assertions and highlighted some major reasons for the increasing number of Californians attending Oregon schools. Last years’ data for UC schools shows that certain behaviors and decisions of the UC Board severely disadvantage residential Californians in being accepted to UC campuses.
UC schools have been lowering academic standards for non-residential students over the past five years in order to accept more non-residential applicants.
Last year, UC schools collectively accepted about 16,000 students that were below the mean SAT/ACT scores, contributing to a more than 400 percent increase in non-residential enrollment.
“We also saw cases where residential students would receive acceptance letters that referred them to enrollment at other schools, even ones that they hadn’t applied for,” said Margarita Fernandéz of the California State Auditor’s Office. “This was not the case for non-residential students.”
Fernandéz referenced a key shift in the business models and profit-motives of the UC campuses. Before 2007, all UC schools had to hand tuition revenue over to the UC Board of Reagents, where it was then divided up amongst the 10 campuses. Now, UC schools get to keep all of the revenue from non-residential tuition rather than give it away, placing a clear advantage toward seeking out-of-state enrollment.
McClellan says that these circumstances reflect his own reasoning for seeking college outside of his home state.
A junior studying economics, McClellan said he chose UO for its college-town feel. Growing up near Stanford University, he wanted a school that could match the same social and academic atmosphere for less money.
“At UC schools it can be hard to get the classes you need on time, leading to more time spent pursuing your degree,” McClellan said. “Since I’m already taking out loans to pay off school, why not go to an out-of-state school where I know I will be able to graduate sooner and for less money?”
McClellan said that even though the realities of the UC school system can be frustrating, he doesn’t feel like he had to settle for UO. Current president-elect of the ECON Club, he feels that the experiences and connections he’s acquired from the UO have benefitted him.