Davis detour: University’s pivot toward international students chills community college hopefuls

Some Los Rios Community College District students wonder about their odds of getting into UC Davis

Raheem F. Hosseini contributed to this report.
This is an extended version of a story that ran August 3, 2017.

UC Davis is increasingly looking beyond its own backyard for new students.

Recent revelations that the university is admitting foreign students at nearly twice the rate as California hopefuls has some local community college students thinking twice about applying.

Former Sierra College student and English major Syd Scanlon even removed UC Davis from her watch list after realizing how difficult the odds of being accepted—and academically successful—were.

“I actually had UC Davis as one of my top schools. … I didn’t realize that they had such strict requirements in terms of how many units a student must take a semester before being put on academic probation,” Scanlon said. “Since I’m a full-time student and I work full-time, I knew that some semesters I just wouldn’t be able to balance.”

UC Davis approved 60.4 percent of the international applications it received this year, compared to 35.9 percent of California applications. In overall numbers, the campus is still taking in more in-state students, but that gap has continued to narrow over the years.

The university offered freshman and transfer admission to a total of 41,299 applicants for the upcoming fall semester, the university announced last month. International admissions rose 24.5 percent over the previous year, accounting for 8,415 slots this upcoming fall. Community college transfers increased 3.5 percent to 9,636 students for the fall, university figures show.

Acceptance letters for the fall semester were mailed to 18,480 freshman applicants in California, mostly in the southern part of the state.

Balancing work and school isn’t a problem international students often have. According to a 2015 article from the Atlantic, these students “typically arrive with the means to pay the full price tag for college.”

The high tuition prices and strict unit requirements at Davis—coupled with its drooping in-state acceptance rates—have created a narrative that’s reaching Sacramento’s community colleges.

American River College adjunct counselor Jane Adams said the doubts are based in reality. “I’ve seen students get denied [from UC Davis] this year, more than any other,” Adams said.

But ARC adjunct counselor Lishia Rahman-Jackson says UC Davis continues to be a major draw. “It is still a local campus,” Rahman-Jackson noted.

And some students aren’t deterred by the in-state acceptance odds.

“If you think about the huge population of California and just how many of them apply for UC Davis, it’s a massive number,” said ARC student Georgio Klironomos. “If they accepted over 30 percent, like even just 50 percent, things would get out of control.”