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Are Tuition Hikes at California Public Colleges Turning Off Acalanes District Graduates?

A new district report shows that more seniors are opting for out-of-state institutions. And how many a year get into Ivy Leagues?

Even graduates of Acalanes district high schools, which serve some of the Bay Area’s most affluent communities, appear concerned about rising tuition costs at California public universities. 

That’s one conclusion that district officials are drawing from new data showing a drop in the number of Acalanes Union High School District graduates who enrolled this past year at University of California or California State University campuses.

Among the 2011 graduating class, around 16 percent reported that they were going on to a UC campus; that’s down from more than 20 percent in 2010 and close to 27 percent in 2006.  Around 16 percent of 2011 graduates said they were going to a CSU campus, the same number as the year before, but down from 20 percent in 2007.

Meanwhile, the number of graduates saying they were going to schools out of state has risen dramatically from below 20 percent in 2008 to close to 30 percent in 2011. 

This district’s data covers the years 2004 to 2011. It is based on post-graduate plans revealed by a total of 10,602 students of the district’s four campuses—Acalanes, Campolindo, Las Lomas and Miramonte--at the end of their senior years.

A primary impetus for reviewing the past eight years of students’ post-graduate plans were news reports about huge tuition increases over the past few years at California public colleges, said Kevin French, associate superintendent for administrative services.

“We were curious to see what impact that had on students’ future plans,” said French, who presented these findings at the Sept. 7 school board meeting.

Since 2004, UC fees have doubled from $4,984 to $10,302 for full-time resident undergraduates—not including room, board, books and individual campus fees.

CSU fees have increased $2,572 to $6,422 during the same period.

The Acalanes district still boasts an enviably high graduation rate — 97 percent of its students earn their diplomas compared with 85 percent throughout Contra Costa County and 80 percent statewide, according to the state Department of Education.

And the same percentage of those Acalanes graduates say they plan to attend either a four- or two-year college, in California or out of state. About a quarter of graduates over the past eight years have chosen a two-year community college or trade school.

“Overall, the number attending four- and two-year schools remained constant,” French said. “But we have more students reporting that they are going out of state.”

Data from the past eight years also shows:

  • Of students going to a UC, the top campus for graduates has been UC Davis (25 percent), followed by UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley (18 percent), and UC Santa Barbara (13 percent).
  • Top CSU schools have been Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo (24 percent); Chico State (20 percent); and San Francisco State (12 percent).
  • About 10 students a year go to Stanford University.
  • About 20 students a year go to an Ivy League school, and two per year receive an appointment to a military academy.
  • University of Southern California is the second top choice for in-state private school, followed by Loyola Marymount, University of San Francisco, Chapman University and St. Mary’s.
  • The top choices for out of state schools are: University of Oregon (which was the seventh most popular choice overall); University of Arizona; University of Colorado at Boulder.
Peter Whitbeck October 03, 2011 at 10:26 PM
California's Junior College system is great and is a great value. The system works really well preparing and funneling kids into the State Colleges and UCs. Bonus! -- your diploma doesn't say "UC Whatever -- last two years only..."
Martha Ross October 04, 2011 at 12:50 AM
Last fall, I had the opportunity to sit in a freshman year composition class at Diablo Valley College, taught by my former English teacher at Acalanes High. So, he was and is an awesome teacher. His accomplishments aside, it was a good class. Another one of those experiences that made me want to go back to school. It was small. Maybe 20 to 25 students, and they all had the chance to participate, discuss in very thoughtful ways and meet one on one with their instructor afterwards. The education they were receiving was just as good or even better than I got in some freshman and sophomore year English and writing classes I took at a prestigious and costly out-of-state private university. In several instances these were big lecture classes taught by highly respected (and probably well paid) professors, but I don't really remember a lot I got out of the classes. I think a great teacher at a community college is worth so much more to any student than a remote and indifferent professor at a so-called prestigious school.
Bruce the Bald October 04, 2011 at 01:31 AM
AUHSD schools have been proving grounds for many faculty members who eventually left to teach at the college level. Speaks well for the District's hiring savvy; wouldn't it be great if some pay/class load structure could be developed so that at least some of those called to leave could be attracted to the district with more than gung ho loyalty to a great group of people. Heck, how about teaching four periods instead of five on the same salary schedule, but signing up for research and publishing! When I left, after 24 years at Acalanes and Las Lomas, I walked into a heady situation where I had [FORGET salary for a minute] my own office and my own phone! OMG, I will never forget that symbolic moment as long as I live. We will solve our educational hassles, I'm sure. We will work out America's problems, but only if people will take the great risk of coming out of their fortresses: this means rabid unionizers, drooling union haters, angry whatevers. Hope Martha Ross will be around for awhile to see this happen, and to write about it.
DubCeemom October 04, 2011 at 01:32 AM
One of the main reasons students are going out of state is the fact that it due to budget cuts, it is difficult to get the classes you need at the UCs and CSUs so it is much more likely you will graduation in 5 years, not 4; 5 years in CA is not much different tuition-wise from 4 years out-of-state.
Jonathan Hawthorne October 04, 2011 at 03:54 AM
Nicely written article! I see a general trend at Las Lomas of students who are considering out-of-state schools with the UC and CSU tuition hikes in previous years. Especially when colleges send representatives to our school to chat with potential students, most of them are from out-of-state.
Kevin Grabenstatter October 04, 2011 at 03:22 PM
I do not doubt that tuition hikes have had an impact on demand, but this article assumes full causality. What about a supply constraint? UC has reported significant, across-the-board increases in out-of-state enrollees in recent years. As we know, this has been concurrent with major budget challenges. Perhaps the admissions office is favoring out-of-staters and their bigger tuition payments? UC has more or less stated that this is what they are doing -- in my opinion, to the detriment of their mission to serve Californians. I'd be interested to know the recent trend in application acceptance rates for our local high school students. http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-07-01/news/29724894_1_nonresident-students-new-students-uc-berkeley http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-09-01/bay-area/23983210_1_uc-commission-uc-regents-uc-enrolls http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-01-15/news/27030701_1_freshman-applications-susan-wilbur-uc-s-commission
One more time with feeling October 04, 2011 at 04:04 PM
1) How many Acalanes Union High School District students applied to UC & CSU and how many were accepted? UC announced they want non-residents because they pay more. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2011/04/18/admission-rate-drops-for-uc-frosh-from-california/ Could it be that many Acalanes Union High School District students applied to UC but were not accepted? 2) If the UC & CSU "tuition increase" is one of the main reasons for more students going out-of-state, what tuition are they paying as non-residents to attend their out-of-state school? Plus travel budget. Jonathan Hawthorne, out-of-state schools are merely doing what UC is doing: Recruit out-of-state students because they pay more. DubCeemom, I know many UC students who matriculated in three & four years (all had AP credits). Speaking with several who did get through in 3-4 years, I learned the "difficult to get classes" are not exactly so, but offered in the morning or other undesirable time. Changing majors in the 3rd or 4th year means prerequisite classes for the "new" major need to be taken forcing the additional year. Moral: Don't change majors or change majors earlier. See UC Completions (not Completion Rate) http://www.cpec.ca.gov/StudentData/GradRates.asp UC/CSU accepts AP coursework (assuming one tests well) while many private schools do not. You have a point on CSU students needing more than 5 years. Curious.
Chris Nicholson October 04, 2011 at 04:22 PM
I suspect a negative correlation between tuition hikes and time-to-degree. It might make sense to limit in-state tuition to four years (take longer, and you pay out-of-state fees-- or perhaps an even higher "hurry up" rate). Capacity is scarce and I don't think it is fair to subsidize students who have no sense of urgency...while at the same time reducing the overall "throughput" of our public higher ed system....
Claire October 04, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Yesterday, Nathan Brostrom, UC Executive Vice President, Business Operations for UC was on the radio and stated that in the UC system, currently 6% of slots are taken by out of state and foreign students, with an eventual goal of 10%. Based on all we have heard about this issue, this seems like a relatively small percentage.
yodasez October 04, 2011 at 06:49 PM
There is no 'one size fits all' method at the UC schools. There are foreign and out of state students who go year round to complete in 3 years. There are singles and married couples working their way through as well as student athletes who's time to completion may be programed for 5 or 6 years. There are programs for students to study abroad that may delay graduation. Campuses have minimum unit requirements to keep students moving forward, however.
Eastofthehills October 04, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Chris I'd agree with you on the condition that UC/CSU makes all the required classes/courses availiable during all sessions. I got out in 4 years, but it took a fair amount of summer school and even then finagle on some of the requirement classes.
Ann October 05, 2011 at 04:46 PM
Fewer AUHSD students are going to UC's because fewer are being accepted vs. the number who apply from our district. This is due in part to the grading policies (read GPA calculation method) of the district. Our students are held to a higher standard, competing against kids from other districts, both in and out of state, which pad grades and provide for replacement grades in the GPA calculation. Go to summer school, to replace a D or F and your new GPA is based on the summer school grade. Our local district does not drop the original grade, it merely includes the summer school grade as an asterisk. Some districts offer summer school to replace any grade, not just D or F. This matters because admissions are based purely on the numbers: GPA, SAT scores, number of students applying from a high school, a district, a zip code. The UC system is especially guilty of this, but it happens everywhere. Reality is that our schools are excellent, but there are excellent schools all over the country, and our students are competing on a national level for college spots. There is no longer preference given to students from AUHSD for UC admission based on the quality of their education. My son was one of the lucky UC accepted students in last year's class. What has been shocking to me are all the local students he knows with better grades and test scores who were NOT ACCEPTED TO ANY UC, yet he has met many others in college who are far less qualified, but from other districts.
Peter Whitbeck October 05, 2011 at 05:28 PM
Bruce -- were you teaching at Acalanes in the mid-70s? If so, I had you for Bible-as-Literature. Your screen name fits...
Claire October 05, 2011 at 05:50 PM
As I understand it, UC was formerly mandated to offer spots to the top 12.5% of graduating students in the state, who met all the other requirements for admission. A few years ago, in an attempt to promote diversity, this was changed to the top 9% in each high school. This change in policy adversely affects students in top performing high schools, such as Acalanes, since many more of our students would likely be in the top 12.5% statewide, but lose out to students selected from the top 9% of lesser performing schools.
Ann October 05, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Assuming the policy referenced by Claire is accurate, AUHSD needs to change its policy on calculating GPA. District policy makers should have been on top of this change when it occurred several years ago. Our students lose out, and frankly so does the University system in the state of CA, and possibly the state's employers. I wonder how many students who go out of state to college subsequently return to establish their lives and become CA taxpayers?
whoride October 05, 2011 at 06:39 PM
I know an English prof at Cal who teaches remedial English to several Freshman each year. Her comment to me was, "my whole educational experience has been back east at Harvard and other Ivy schools. When I was hired by Cal I thought I was coming to a similar school of high standards. No Freshman at Ivy schools need to be taught remedial English." She thinks the admission policy at Cal is a joke and she says that Cal will never be a 1st tier undergrad school as long as kids that should be in JC's, are let in.
Bruce the Bald October 05, 2011 at 07:33 PM
Whoride should check out the gpa's, time spent earning a diploma, of the "JC" students he/she derides. Community college transfers consistently outperform students who started as freshman -- at Berkeley, and throughout the UC system, as I understand it.
Claire October 05, 2011 at 07:37 PM
That may be true of the JC students that transfer to a UC school, but there are still far too many in the JC system requiring fairly basic remediation from what I have read and heard lately.
whoride October 05, 2011 at 08:01 PM
Bald: point is they shouldn't be admitted to Cal if they can't write. Nothing against jc's although that is where kids should go for remedial learning
Jojo Potato October 05, 2011 at 10:27 PM
I'm not sure that I'm arguing in this thread but let me say this. My daughter who had trouble at Las Lomas and eventually dropped out went to DVC and got the classes she needed to get accepted to UCLA. And as the first speaker said, her diploma didn't have an asterisk on it. I'm very proud of her doing Peace Corps service in Madagascar and representing the USA. And yes, there are a lot of Lemurs there and the pictures she sends home are amazing.
Milan Moravec June 15, 2012 at 08:31 PM
There was a 43 percent jump in the number of affluent foreign and affluent out-of-state students accepted by University of California Berkeley. The more non-Californians admitted, the fewer qualified Californians can be. Fall admit rate for Californians drops to record low 18%. Another shocking picture of inept Cal. senior management. In spite of eligibility Cal. Chancellor Birgeneau ($450.000 salary), Provost Breslauer ($306,000 salary) shed thousands of instate applicants. Qualified instate applicants to public Cal. are replaced by a $50,600 payment from born abroad affluent foreign and affluent out of state students. And, Birgeneau subsidizes affluent foreign and affluent out of state tuition in the guise of diversity while he doubles instate tuition/fees. (Harvard is now less costly than Cal.) Birgeneau/Breslauer accept affluent $50,600 foreign students that displace qualified instate Californians (When depreciation of tax funded assets are included (as they should be), out of state and foreign tuition is more than $100,000 and does NOT subsidize instate tuition. Send a forceful message that Provost Breslauer Chancellor Birgeneau decisions are unacceptable: UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu and Calif. State Senator and Assemblymember.
Bruce the Bald June 16, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Whoride, you observe: "... as long as kids that should be in JC's are let in." Strange, coming from a Havaad -taught student. Perhaps the following will put your comment into perspective [and I hope you'll share it with Mr. Havaad]: (from the Report of the Committee on Composition and Rhetoric of the Harvard College Board of Overseers)"It would not seem unreasonable to insist that young men of nineteen years of age who present themselves for a college education, should be able not only to speak, but to write their mother tongue with ease and correctness. It is obviously absurd that the college -- the institution of higher education -- should be called upon to turn aside from its proper functions, and devote its means and the time of its instructors to the task of imparting elementary instruction which should be given even in ordinary grammar schools, much more in those academic institutions intended to prepare select youth for a university course. [referring not to JC's but to Exeter, Andover, Hotchkiss, Lawrenceville, etc. Ed.] The date of this report is 1892. In hope, Bruce the Bald

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