1998 SONS Freshmen and Transfers: Results and Summary

The profile of the new fall 1998 undergraduates highlights the differences and similarities between students entering as freshmen and those entering as transfers. They come from diverse backgrounds with outstanding academic records and high expectations.

Sixty-seven percent of the freshmen knew for sure that they would be applying to Berkeley before the 12th grade, with 30 percent knowing by 9th grade or earlier. Sixty-three percent of the transfers knew that they would apply to Berkeley before the last academic year at their former school, with 34 percent knowing before starting college. Fifty-eight percent of the freshmen but only 38 percent of the transfers reported that it was somewhat or difficult for them to choose Berkeley over other colleges that admitted them. Sixty-four percent of the transfers and 52 percent of the freshmen reported that academic quality was the deciding or final factor in choosing Berkeley. This was followed by value (quality of education for the money) and location. Sixty-three percent of the freshmen and 49 percent of the transfers would have seriously considered enrolling at UCLA if not admitted to Berkeley.


The fall 1998 new undergraduates are comprised of 70 percent new from high school freshmen and 30 percent transfers or advanced standing. The gender distribution is about equal: 50.3 percent women and 49.7 percent men. The ethnic breakdown of the new undergraduates is as follows:

 Percentage Percentage
Chinese 19.5 African American 3.3
East Indian/Pakistani 3.8 American Indian 0.5
Filipino 2.8 Chicano 5.2
Japanese 2.0 Latino 2.7
Korean 5.8 White 31.3
Pacific Islander 0.4 Other 1.6
Vietnamese 3.2 No Data 16.1
Other Asian 1.8    
Asian Subtotal 39.3 International 4.9

Sixteen percent of the new 1998 undergraduates are immigrants. Among immigrant students, Chinese are 34 percent, followed by White (14 percent), Korean (13 percent), and Vietnamese (9 percent). There is no ethnic data for 10 percent of the new immigrant students.

The median reported income for 1998 freshmen is $65,000. Twenty five percent of the freshmen come from families who make $32,000 or less per year and twenty-five percent come from families who make $105,000 or more per year. Chicanos ($30,650) and African Americans ($36,300) have the lowest median family incomes and Whites ($89,000) have the highest family income among the major ethnic groups. The median parental income for California Community College transfer students, which are the vast majority of the transfers, is $41,161. A third of the California Community College registrants do not provide parental income data, so these data are not as reliable as the freshmen data.

Of the new freshmen, 51 percent come from families in which at least one parent has a postgraduate degree or postgraduate study, and only 12 percent come from families in which neither parent has any college experience. Forty-five percent of the fathers of freshmen and 28 percent of the mothers have either postgraduate degrees or some postgraduate education. There are significant differences in parental education by ethnic group among the freshmen. For example, 59 percent of the Chicano freshmen have fathers with a high school diploma or less in contrast to 32 percent for African Americans, 16 percent for Asians, and 5 percent for White freshmen. Of the new transfers, 26 percent come from families in which at least one parent has a postgraduate degree or study, and 30 percent come from families in which neither parent has any college experience.

Most of the 1998 freshmen come from California (88.0 percent). Los Angeles county provides 24.5 percent of the new freshmen, whereas 28.2 percent of the new freshmen are from four Bay Area counties: Santa Clara (9.7 percent), Alameda (8.4 percent), Contra Costa (6.0 percent), and San Francisco (4.1 percent). An additional 10 percent are from other states, with no state other than Texas (1.4 percent) providing more than one percent. Two percent are from foreign countries. Transfers are more likely than freshmen to be from the Bay Area. Alameda County provides 17.2 percent of the new transfers, Contra Costa (11.0 percent), Santa Clara (9.7 percent), and San Francisco (8.5 percent). These four counties provide 46.4 percent of the California community college transfers, whereas Los Angeles County provides 14.5 percent. Four percent are from foreign countries.

Most of the new freshmen (83.4 percent) come from public high schools with 16.6 percent from private high schools. For the transfers, 86.8 percent come from California community colleges, 4.8 percent from other UC campuses, 7.9 percent from other four year colleges, and 0.5 percent from non-California community colleges.

Academic Preparation and Expectations

The new freshmen have a mean high school grade point average of 4.11. Starting in the fall of 1998 the high school grade point average used for admissions included additional points for honors courses, resulting in grade point averages higher than 4.00. For the new freshmen, the 25th percentile SAT I Total score is 1260 and the 75th percentile Sat I Total score is 1430. The new transfers have a transfer grade point average mean of 3.61.

A majority of the new undergraduates think that they are well prepared for what will be required of them at Berkeley. The responses are similar for freshmen and transfers. Both freshmen and transfers are less confident about their speaking skills and their abilities to make strong/effective oral presentations. Transfers are more confident than freshmen about their study skills, using the library, and accessing research information.

The proportion reporting good or excellent preparation in the following areas:

 Freshman (%)Transfer (%)
Effective study strategies and skills 70 81
Writing effective essays, papers, etc. 69 73
Reading with comprehension and speed 67 66
Skills to do well in math and math related courses 75 72
Using a personal computer for academic work 73 74
Making strong/effective oral presentations, speaking skills 56 55
Using the library, accessing research information 57 66
Overall preparation starting Berkeley 75 78

As in previous years, the intended majors of the new undergraduates are diverse. The top intended majors among the new freshmen and transfers are:

Molecular and Cell Biology 14 English 9
Business Administration 12 Business Administration 7
Integrative Biology 5 Computer Science (L&S) 6
Computer Science (L&S) 5 Integrative Biology 5
Electrical Engineering, EECS 5 Economics 5

The majority of the new freshmen (65 percent) are a little unsure or not sure at all about their choice of major.

Eighty-two percent of the freshmen and 77 percent of the transfers will own a computer when entering Berkeley in the fall. An additional ten percent of the freshmen and 13 percent of the transfers plan to buy a computer during the first year.

Sixty-two percent of the transfers and 45 percent of the freshmen expect to work part-time during the first year at Berkeley. Seventy-nine percent of the transfers and 78 percent of the freshmen expect to work part-time after the first year.

Twenty-five percent of both freshmen and transfers expect to contribute money to their parents to help pay bills or provide for other family members. Another 31 percent of both groups say that they are not sure about this.

More transfers (45 percent) than freshmen (24 percent) report that probably the most serious problem facing them at Berkeley will be financing their education. Freshmen are more confident than transfers that they will graduate on time (4 years for freshmen; 2 years for transfers.) Transfers (86 percent) more so than freshmen (78 percent) are sure that they made the right decision in choosing Berkeley. Less than half of both freshman (48 percent) and transfers (36 percent) are sure that they will earn A’s and B’s the first year at Berkeley.

The proportion of respondents who "Strongly Agree" or "Agree" to the following items:

 Freshman (%)Transfer (%)
Probably the most serious problem I will be facing at Berkeley is financing my education 24 45
Attending Berkeley will be a financial hardship for my family 31 44
I know I made the right decision in choosing Berkeley 78 86
I have at least one relative who attended Berkeley 41 32
I am afraid that people will think that I am too "conservative" to fit in at Berkeley 15 15
I expect to graduate from Berkeley "on time" (4 years for Freshmen; 2 years for transfers) 75 68
It is important for me to graduate "on time" (4 years for freshmen; 2 years for transfers) 70 69
I won’t hesitate to ask an instructor for help if I am having difficulty in a course 76 85
I am sure that I am going to earn all A’s and B’s my first year at Berkeley 36 48
It’s really important to my parents that I get very good grades here at Berkeley 70 62
I expect that I will join a study group my first year 57 61
My parents have strong ideas of what I should and should not major in 30 30
I am worried about my personal safety in and around the city of Berkeley 39 35
I’m the kind of person who likes to take care of problems on my own rather than ask for help 55 50
There is a good chance that I will seek counseling for personal problems sometime while at Berkeley 20 28

Students were asked to check the areas for which they especially wanted to receive information about the services or opportunities available to them as a Berkeley undergraduate. The most frequently checked area by both freshmen (73 percent) and transfers (70 percent) was information on choosing the right courses. This was followed by information on Undergraduate Internship possibilities: freshmen (62 percent) and transfers (60 percent). Other areas frequently checked by freshmen were choosing the right major (55 percent), choosing the right career (50 percent), and finding part-time employment (46 percent). Other areas frequently checked by transfers were choosing the right career (45 percent) and information on finding a part-time job (44 percent).

After Berkeley

Seventy percent of the freshmen and 56 percent of the transfers report that after graduation they will most likely go to graduate or professional school. Only 13 percent of the freshmen and 29 percent of the transfers think that they will most likely get a full-time job after graduation. The remaining respondents (freshmen, 17 percent and transfers 15 percent) are not sure.

Top Intended Occupations

Physician 17 College Professor 12
Engineer 9 Engineer 8
Lawyer or Judge 8 Lawyer or Judge 8
Scientific Researcher 6 Teacher 6
Business Executive 6 Computer Programmer 6

Fourteen percent of those respondents who entered as freshmen and 7 percent of those who entered as transfers did not know what type of career they were likely to pursue.

The information in this report comes primarily from the responses to the 1998 Survey of New Students (2856 out of 5911, a 48 percent response rate after adjusting for invalid addresses); OSR’s Undergraduate Admissions Statistics, Fall 1998; and OSR’s Client server student data system.

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