Losing Our Minds

By Aleks Levin • Staff Writer

In an effort to compensate for recent budget cuts, the UC system has resorted to admitting more out-of-state and international students than ever before. The UC system has experienced financial difficulty in the past few years, with $750 million in cuts from funding this year alone.  The system is doing what it can to soften the blow by admitting more non-California students. At UCSD, non-California residents accounted for 32.7 percent of admitted students up from 15.7 percent in 2010.  That in itself wouldn’t be of much concern if it weren’t for the fact that California students are currently applying for out-of-state universities in droves. This increase in out-of-state student admission not only hurts future California students’ chances at getting into a UC university, but it is also projected that the biggest cost will come later when the state lacks the educated work force it needs to sustain its economy.

The problem with more Californians applying to out-of-state universities is that California does not have an unlimited number of college students. Hans Johnson, a researcher with the Public Policy Institute of California, said that California will need hundreds of thousands more college graduates to sustain the economy, but given current trends, he estimates that California will have one million fewer graduates by 2025 than the industries need. There is growing concern that students will not come back to California once they have completed their degrees, leading to a large human capital loss. 

When looking at the schools with the best career services, career counseling and resources, according to Princeton Review, 19 out of the top 20 best career service centers are outside of California, with Claremont McKenna as the sole exception. It’s true that the majority of college graduates find work near their degree conferring institution, partly due to the college’s career placements, and California graduates from non-California schools are no exception. California needs to recognize its own shortcomings in their own career centers and look at what some of the top career centers, like the University of Florida, have been doing. If the career service centers in California become more comprehensive and competitive then that would increase the likelihood of non-Californians staying here and finding employment here, thereby stymieing the exodus of human capital.

This would not be such an issue if California were importing as many students from out-of-state as it is exporting, but this is not the case. The number of high school graduates leaving California for a four-year college in 2010 was three times greater than the number of high school students coming in from out-of-state. This application trend revealed in the U.S. Department of Education Data is partly due to the fact that the UC system is trying harder to attract non-California students while out-of-state schools are also recruiting in-state California students to attend their universities. In the past 10 years, enrollment of California freshmen at Arizona State University doubled, University of Oregon quadrupled, Boise State increased tenfold, according to the Sacramento Bee. This California college migration is driven by issues in state colleges such as constant tuition increases, budget cuts, ballooning classroom sizes and low graduation rates.

The UC system should prioritize keeping tuition affordable to maintain its California students, because financial aid packages and availability of classes at private schools are starting to rival UC campuses in affordability. Tuition has almost tripled in the past decade at Cal States and UCs, while the average Cal State and UC four-year graduation rate is 15.6 percent and 60 percent, respectively, according to federal data. Students are more likely to graduate on time if they head out of state to institutions like Arizona State and NYU, which have four-year graduation rates of 30 percent and 79 percent, respectively. If you factor that in with sweet financial aid packages that out-of-state and private universities are inclined to hand out, this makes students less inclined to go to a Cal State or a UC. While those institutions are more expensive on a yearly basis, the overall cost is comparative to a Cal State or UC education in the long run.

The UC system is attempting to keep itself accessible to all California students in the short term by allowing in more non-California students. But this is not a sustainable solution for the future of California’s workforce. As our technically skilled and knowledgeable residents leave California to learn and work elsewhere, our economy will suffer, especially if these trends continue.

Readers can contact Aleks Levin at [email protected]


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