UCLA celebrates most diverse class of incoming freshmen yet

File: Students sit around the Bruin Bear statue during lunchtime on the campus of UCLA on April 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
File: Students sit around the Bruin Bear statue during lunchtime on the campus of UCLA on April 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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UCLA's admissions team is celebrating what they say is their most diverse incoming class ever.

After a record 119,000 applications were submitted by students around the globe, the university offered admission to 17,500 applicants, with nearly 60 percent hailing from the Golden State, according to a statement from UCLA Wednesday.

The university increased admission offers to black students by 24 percent, American Indian students by 21 percent and Latino students by 17 percent. Gary Clark, UCLA's director of undergraduate admission, said almost a third of the Californians admitted come from low-income families.

“UCLA’s always cared about having a diverse class, and a class that’s really reflective of the remarkably diverse state that we’re a part of," Clark said. "I think we’re recognizing that our recruitment efforts, especially for high-performing, underrepresented students, need to take a more strategic approach."

He credits the jump to a recent push to start pitching the university beyond the guidance counselor's office. Clark said that the recruitment team went into coffee shops and churches to reach marginalized populations of talented students.

After a report last year said that UC's were passing over California residents to admit out-of-state students that pay higher tuition, state legislators incentivized acceptance of the state's homegrown applicants. The state budget included an additional $25 million for the UC system if it enrolls 5,000 more California students than it did last year. In April it was on track to do so

That's perhaps why UCLA is boasting an 11 percent increase in its admission offers to California residents. But it's not the only UC campus celebrating. UC Irvine increased admission of California freshmen by 15.6 percent.

Overall, UC campuses increased admission of California students by 15.1 percent, admitting 9,344 more residents for fall 2016 than the previous year.

Collaboration behind African American admissions spike at UCLA

Statewide 3,464 African American high school graduates received admission letters from UC’s nine undergraduate campuses. That’s 811 more than last year. UCLA had the highest percentage increase of admission letters to African Americans. The UCLA admissions office notified 624 African American applicants that they’d been accepted – 171 more than last year.

For the last few years, campus officials have been reaching out to schools with large proportions of black students to help them get in to UCLA.

The university established a partnership with L.A. Unified two years ago that provides classes for high school counselor and administrators at 28 L.A. Unified high schools.

“It’s life-transforming for them to get accepted to UCLA,” said Robert Whitman, L.A. Unified’s leader of the partnership, and not enough underrepresented students were applying and getting admitted.

High school counselors have been learning how to monitor students’ progress toward college admission, what Advanced Placement classes students need to get in, and how to write a killer personal statement.

“A personal statement is a very significant component to the college application and that can make or break kids,” Whitman said.

Of applicants from the partner schools, 280 received admission letters to UCLA for the fall.

But Whitman highlights the efforts of long-struggling Washington Preparatory High School in South L.A.

Last year two students from the school received admission letters to UCLA. This year that number is up to eight.

Next year, Whitman wants to have teachers and counselors check in with former students during the first years of college in hopes that’ll help students earn their degrees.

This story has been updated.

This story has been updated.