1999 SONS Freshmen and Transfers: Results and Summary

Information from the University of California application and the Office of Student Research survey of new students last summer provides a rich statistical profile of our new undergraduates.

Sixty-six percent of the freshmen knew for sure that they would be applying for Berkeley before the 12th grade, with 30 percent knowing by 9th grade or earlier. Sixty-four percent of the transfers knew that they would apply to Berkeley before the last academic year at their former school, with 38 percent knowing before starting college.

Sixty-five percent of the freshmen but only 38 percent of the transfers reported that it was somewhat difficult or difficult for them to choose Berkeley over other colleges that admitted them.

Forty-six percent of the transfers and 43 percent of the freshmen reported that academic quality was the deciding or final factor in choosing Berkeley. This was followed by quality of intended field of study by both, and value (quality of education for money) for freshmen and location for transfers.

Sixty-two percent of the freshmen and 46 percent of the transfers would have seriously considered enrolling at UCLA if not admitted to Berkeley.


The fall 1999 new undergraduates are comprised of 69 percent new from high school freshmen and 31 percent transfers (advanced standing).

The gender distribution is 53 percent women and 47 percent men.

Ethnic Distribution

 Freshman (%)Transfer (%)Freshman (%)Transfer (%)
African American 3.6 4.0 Asian Subgroups
American Indian 0.6 0.5 Chinese 22.2 15.6
Asian 44.9 31.6 East Indian/Pakistani 3.8 2.2
Chicano 6.3 6.7 Filipino 3.7 2.9
Latino 3.1 3.4 Japanese 2.0 1.0
White 31.5 40.3 Korean 6.5 3.2
Other 1.7 2.3 Pacific Islander 0.3 0.4
No Data 8.3 11.3 Vietnamese 3.7 4.9
International 2.5 11.2 Other Asian 2.8 1.4

Sixteen percent of the new 1999 undergraduates are immigrants. Among the immigrant students, Chinese are 35 percent, followed by White (17 percent), Korean (11 percent), and Vietnamese (8 percent).

Only 30 percent of the freshmen and 35 percent of the transfers came from families where both parents were born in the United States. Twenty-four percent of the transfers have been in the United States five years or less.

Immigrant Origins

Freshman (%)Transfer (%)
Not born in the U.S., came:
1-5 years ago 5 24
6-10 years ago 8 8
11-15 years ago 7 5
More than 15 years ago 7 9
Born in the U.S., with:
Neither parent born in U.S. 36 12
One parent born in the U.S. 7 7
Both parents born in the U.S. 30 35

The median reported parental income for the 1999 freshmen is $65,000. Twenty-five percent of the freshmen come from families who make $31,000 or less, and twenty-five percent come from families who make $104,000 or more per year. Chicanos ($31,400) and African Americans ($40,000) have the lowest median family incomes, and Whites ($90,000) 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 $44,244. Twenty-five percent of the registrants come from families making $20,000 or less per year, and twenty-five come from families making $80,000 or more per year. About a third of the California Community College registrants do not provide parental income data; therefore, these data are not as reliable as the freshman data.

Of the new freshmen, 47 percent come from families in which at least one parent has a postgraduate degree or postgraduate study, and 16 percent come from families in which neither parent has any college experience. Thirty-one percent of the transfers come from families in which neither parent has any college experience.

There are significant differences in parental education by ethnic group among the freshmen. For example, 54 percent of the Chicano freshmen have fathers with a high school diploma or less in contrast to 9 percent for African Americans, 13 percent for Asians, and less than one percent for White freshmen.

Among freshmen, 81 percent of the fathers of White students have at least a 4 year college degree compared to 66 percent for Asian, 37 percent for African American, and 23 percent for Chicano.

Most of the 1999 freshmen come from California (88 percent). Los Angeles county provides 22 percent of the new freshmen, whereas 26 percent of the new freshmen are from four Bay area counties: Santa Clara (8 percent), Alameda (8 percent), Contra Costa (5 percent), and San Francisco (4 percent). Ten percent are from other states, with no state other than Texas (1 percent) providing as much as one percent. Two percent are from foreign countries.

Transfers are more likely than freshmen to be from the Bay Area. Alameda County provides 16 percent of the new transfers, Contra Costa (11 Percent), San Francisco (10 percent), and Santa Clara (9 percent). These four counties provide 47 percent of the California community college transfers, whereas Los Angeles County provides 14 percent. Five percent are from foreign countries.

Most of the new freshmen (86 percent) come from public high schools with 14 percent from private high schools. For the transfers, most (88 percent) come form California community colleges, 4 percent from other UC campuses, 5 percent from other four-year colleges, and 3 percent from non-California community colleges.

Academic Preparation and Expectations

For new freshmen the uncapped grade point average is 4.00 at the 25th percentile and 4.42 at the 75th percentile. (Starting in the fall of 1998 the high school grade point averaged used for admission includes additional points for honors courses, resulting in grade point averages higher than 4.00.) The 25th percentile SATI-Total score is 1220 and the 75th percentile SATI-Total score is 1430. The new transfers have a transfer grade point of 3.43 at the 25th percentile and 3.89 at the 75th percentile.

New undergraduates generally think that they are well prepared for what will be required of them at Berkeley. Overall responses are similar for freshmen and transfers. Both freshmen and transfers are less confident about their ability to write effective essays and paper. Overall transfers are slightly more confident than freshmen about their preparation for Berkeley. The major differences are in time management skills and managing finances, where transfers are somewhat more confident than freshmen.

Self-Rating of Preparation (Percent "Good" or "Excellent")

 Freshman (%)Transfer (%)
Overall preparation as you start Berkeley 80 82
Effective study strategies and skills 76 82
Skills to do well in math or math related courses 76 72
Reading with comprehension and speed 70 72
Making effective oral presentations/speaking skills 64 60
Writing effective essays and papers 48 48
Desktop computer skills 71 72
Internet, web skills 70 73
Using the library, accessing research information 69 69
Coping with expectations of parents and family 80 83
Ability to maintain good health 78 83
Balancing academic and social activities 77 77
Ability to cope with a competitive atmosphere 75 76
Ability to handle stress 69 74
Time management skills 64 73
Managing your finances 62 75

The majority of the new freshmen (62 percent) are a little unsure or not sure at all about their choice of major. It is less important to freshmen (77 percent) than transfers (92 percent) that they get into their first major of choice.

Eighty-five percent of the freshmen and 81 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.

Top Intended Majors

Molecular and Cell Biology 15 English 10
Business Administration 12 Economics 8
Political Science 5 Molecular and Cell Biology 8
Electrical Engineering (EECS) 5 Computer Science (L&S) 6
Computer Science (L&S) 5 Psychology 5

Sixty-seven percent of the transfers and 47 percent of the freshmen expect to work part-time during the first year at Berkeley. Seventy-eight percent of both freshmen and transfers expect to work part-time after the first year.

Twenty-five percent of the freshmen versus 37 percent of the transfers report that probably the most serious problem facing them at Berkeley will be financing their education.

Twenty-six percent of the freshmen and 25 percent of the transfers expect to contribute money to their parents to help pay bills or provide for other family members. Another 32 percent of the freshmen and 27 percent of the transfers say that they are not sure about this.

It is more important to freshmen (74 percent) than transfers (64 percent) that they graduate "on time" (four years for freshmen; two years for transfers). Freshmen (78 percent) are not as sure as transfers (88 percent) that they made the right decision in choosing Berkeley. Freshmen (38 percent) are not as confident as transfers (55 percent) that they will earn all A's and B's the first year at Berkeley.

Ninety-two percent of the freshmen versus 45 percent of the transfers reported confirmed housing for the fall. Freshmen (46 percent) are less concerned than transfers (56 percent) about finding affordable housing while a student at Berkeley.

Statements About Berkeley (Percent "Agree" or "Strongly Agree")

 Freshman (%)Transfer (%)
I have confirmed housing for the fall semester 92 45
I won't hesitate to ask an instructor for help if I am having difficulty in a course 81 86
I know I made the right decision in choosing Berkeley 78 88
It is important that I get into my first choice of major 77 92
It's important for me to graduate "on time" (4 years for freshmen; 2 years for transfers) 74 64
This past year I've often felt overwhelmed with all I have had to do 58 44
I was attracted to Berkeley because of its reputation for diversity 55 62
I am worried about my personal safety in and around the city of Berkeley 49 39
Finding affordable housing will be a major concern while I am a student at Berkeley 46 56
I'm sure that I'm going to earn all A's and B's my first year at Berkeley 38 55
Attending Berkeley will be a financial hardship for my family 33 36
My parents have strong ideas of what I should and should not major in 31 20
There is a good chance that I will seek counseling for personal problems sometime while I am at Berkeley 26 31
Probably the most serious problem I will be facing at Berkeley is financing my education 25 37
I am concerned that there will be less diversity at Berkeley than I expected 10 12

Highest Degree Planned

 Freshman (%)Transfer (%)
Bachelors 6 10
Academic Masters (MA, MS) 32 35
Professional Masters (MBA, ML) 7 7
Ph.D. or Ed.D. 26 30
MD, DO,DDS or DVM 14 7
JD or LLB 4 5
Not Sure 11 6

More freshmen than transfers anticipate either no loans (37 percent versus 30 percent) or loans of $20,000 or more (22 percent versus 9 percent). More transfers than freshmen (60 percent versus 41 percent) anticipate loan totals up to $20,000.

Anticipated Loan Indebtedness At the End of Undergraduate Education

Freshman (%)Transfer (%)
None 37 30
Less than $5,000 10 13
$5,000-9,999 10 22
$10,000-14,999 12 13
$15,000-19,999 9 12
$20,000 or more 22 9

Eighteen percent of those respondents who entered as freshmen and 8 percent of those who entered as transfers did not know what type of career they were likely to pursue.

Top Intended Occupations

Physician/Psychiatrist 18 College Professor 11
Lawyer or Judge 8 Teacher/Administrator 6
Engineer 6 Physician/Psychiatrist 8
Business Executive 6 Lawyer/Judge 6
Scientific Researcher 5 Computer Programmer 5

The information in this report comes primarily from responses to the 1999 Survey of New Students (2498 out of 3556 CalSO participants), a 70 percent response rate); OSR's Undergraduate Admissions Statistics, Fall 1999; and OSR's Client server student data system.

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