The UC Irvine School of Medicine has received a steadily increasing influx of applications since 2002, with this year’s applicant pool peaking close to 4,700. The coveted acceptance letters (about 265-285), sent out to fill an incoming class size of 104 students, are becoming more difficult to acquire as a direct result of added competition for the limited spots; that is a six percent admittance rate.
However, there is more to high rejection rates and low admittance rates than an increase in applications.
Dr. Ellena Peterson, associate dean of Admissions and Outreach for the UCI School of Medicine, said that she is not sure the number of applicants will necessarily increase each year.
“Over the past 12 years or so, numbers have gone down and then back up again,” Peterson said.
In spite of the substantial increase over the past five years, Peterson stated that the numbers seem to be flattening out. Peterson is not sure of the specific reasons for this increase.
Suggested possibilities for the increase include the online application process, fear of rejection and even peer pressure to pursue a career in medicine. Online applications have made it possible for students to apply to multiple schools to ensure admittance to at least one.
Regardless, the increased number of applicants fighting for the same limited number of class positions tends to lead to higher rejection rates at universities such as UCI.
UCI pools approximately 130-150 applicants for the Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC) and doctoral programs. Peterson explained that the difference between the two programs is that before one can apply to the PRIME program, they must first be granted a secondary application. Approximately one third of our applicant pool is granted a secondary application.
Additionally, being a UCI graduate does not give an individual an advantage over other schools when applying to the UCI School of Medicine. Medical school admissions officers “look at each applicant as an individual [with] the only preference given for California residents,” Peterson said.
According to a chart provided by Peterson, 11 undergraduate institutions were represented in the class of 2007 at the UCI School of Medicine, the third most varied following UC San Diego and UCLA.
“The number from each institution accepted and matriculated is very proportional to the total number of applicants from each institution,” Peterson said.
Peterson admits the difficulty in turning down well-qualified applicants and points out that more than half of all nationwide applicants fail to be granted admission each year.