Iconic Hepner Hall at San Diego State University. Photo by Chris Jennewein

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

Records are made to be broken; we have been told that all our lives.

San Diego State University announced that it has received 96,610 applications for undergraduate and graduate admission for September 2018 — 11 percent more than for 2017. Across town, the University of California San Diego announced that a record 116,000 applications have been received, an increase of 10 percent.

Records are being set every year by these two universities and at fellow campuses — the 10 UCs and 24 CSUs. Nevertheless, due to falling high school graduate numbers projected for California and the nation by 2032, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office sees no need for new campuses in California.

The legislative analyst projects continued modest growth for the two California systems. In 2007 the UC system enrolled 163,000 students; 10 years later it was 210,000. In the CSU system, 2007 enrollment was 344,000; in 2017 it was 423,000.

Despite forthcoming stagnant high school graduation numbers, enrollment increases due to record setting Asian population growth and an unexpected huge spike in college enrollment of Hispanic students will increase college admissions in California for as far as we can see.

Raoul Lowery Contreras

Hispanic college admissions are growing in such percentages that they are now second to Asian admissions and ahead of white admissions.

Besides a growing Hispanic population, the critical number of California Hispanics that are taking and passing college preparatory classes, the so-called “A-G” classes, are preparing more Hispanics to apply for college enrollment than ever before.

While Hispanic enrollment is growing on the UC campuses, the largest growth appears to be on the campuses of the CSU system.

There was no official count of Hispanic students at San Diego State when I enrolled in 1958; there might have been just 50 on the campus of 7,000. In fact, the word “Hispanic” was not invented until 12 years later.

Today, the 34,828-student body at SDSU includes 10,445 Hispanics, 30 percent of total enrollment. Since Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Central Americans and Cuban Americans are mostly on the East Coast, practically all Hispanics in California and in the two university systems are Mexican Americans.

At Cal State Los Angeles, a whopping 62.5 percent of the student body is Hispanic (Mexican American mostly) and 15.3 percent is Asian.

The legislative analyst projects a modest 5 percent growth at the UCs (+11,000) and 4 percent growth at the CSUs (+11,000) by the 2024-25 school year. But those projections might be too conservative.

Huge leaps in Hispanic college admissions and in Asian population growth, as well as more adults returning to college to improve their employment prospects, suggest the legislative analyst may be underestimating — dramatically.

The 93,000 applications to San Diego State and the 116,000 applications to UC San Diego for September 2018 may or may not be accurate indicators of future growth at both campuses and both university systems, but history indicates much more growth than what the legislative analyst predicts.

Or, as the Legislative Analyst’s Office itself states in its conservative report: “All long-term projections, including these enrollment projections, are subject to a level of uncertainty.”


Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant and the author of “The Armenian Lobby & American Foreign Policy” and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade.” His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.

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