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Local universities awash in applications

UC San DiegoRecord numbers apply to UC San Diego, SDSU and Cal State San Marcos

The county’s universities remain a popular choice for prospective freshmen and transfer students, who flood the campuses with ever-increasing numbers of applications each year.

Once again, UC San Diego, San Diego State University and California State University San Marcos are boasting record numbers of students seeking admission for the fall semester.

Nationally, 64 percent of colleges reported increases in the number of applications they received in 2012, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

The growth is fueled in part by the continuing trend of students applying to multiple colleges, although the association said the “application scramble” may be slowing. For the first time in 20 years, the percentage of freshmen who submitted seven or more applications declined — albeit slightly, from 29 percent to 28 percent.

The University of California San Diego received a record 89,552 applications for fall 2014, a jump of nearly 9 percent from a year ago. The new total puts the school among the top five in the nation for the most applications.

San Diego State’s 78,032 applications also was a record for that campus, up nearly 5 percent from 2013.

And Cal State San Marcos got 20,262 applications, an 8 percent increase from last year.

Two private schools in the region — the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University — have later deadlines for applications and haven’t tallied their final counts yet.

The application crush may provide universities with bragging rights, but for students, this is an anxiety-filled season.

In a statement, UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla attributed the new application mark to the university’s top rankings and “global reputation as an academic powerhouse.” For his part, SDSU President Elliot Hirshman called his school’s record “a testament to the academic and professional success” of students and alumni, as well as the university’s “growing national reputation.”

Many students hedge their bets by applying to numerous colleges.

Michaela Valk, a 17-year-old senior at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, applied to eight colleges in California — including the University of San Diego, UC San Diego and SDSU.

“It is really competitive nowadays,” she said. “Everybody is trying to cure cancer while other kids are trying to just achieve an education.”

Valk said she’s nervous about hearing back from the schools, even with her 4.0 cumulative grade point average, 1820 SAT score and slew of extracurricular activities, including serving as her school’s Associated Student Body president and as executive president of San Diego Unified’s ASB Presidents Council.

“You look at the college freshman profiles, those numbers are so high. That’s what makes me nervous,” she said.

In its recent report, the college admission counseling association said it found anecdotal evidence that some colleges are “curbing efforts” to bring in as many applications as possible and instead focusing more on targeting “good fit” students who would be more likely to enroll.

Scott Hagg, associate vice president of enrollment management at Cal State San Marcos, believes students also are being more selective as they consider his university, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

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