UC Merced guarantees freshman admission to eligible local students in effort to expand access to underserved areas

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

UC Merced announced Monday that it would guarantee a freshman seat to eligible local students, the first University of California campus to do so in an effort to expand college access in one of the state’s most underserved areas.

University officials are aiming to motivate more students in the San Joaquin Valley — which lags behind other California regions in high school graduation rates — to pursue college. Only 30% of Merced Union High School District students complete the college preparatory coursework required for UC admission, said Charles Nies, UC Merced’s vice chancellor of student affairs.

“[This] is not a free pass,” UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz said Monday at El Capitan High School in Merced. “It is our way of saying to young people … that make the grade, that have the wherewithal, that make an effort that we’ll have a place for you.”

The plan comes amid growing national and state pressure to increase college access, especially to disadvantaged students.

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