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Overcrowding in the California Public Universities

May 21st, 2019

Overcrowding has become a widespread problem on college campuses in California. Overcrowding occurs when the number of students enrolled in the school is larger than the number of students the school is designed to accommodate. Many California State Universities such as Fullerton, San Diego, Long Beach, Fresno, and San Louis Obispo are being affected by this problem¹. This problem leads to schools not being able to accept as many students and the impaction of most majors. The problem of overcrowding affects high school students by making it harder for many of them to get into these schools as well as college students by making it harder for current students to get the classes that they need to graduate.

High school students applying to public California universities are being met with rejection letters more frequently than they have in previous years². This has created a larger pool of competition within the application process of getting into California’s public universities. With more high school students meeting the same criteria, the bar has been raised for admissions into these schools. Not only has the competition to get into these schools increased, but most of the public California universities are being forced to accept lower numbers of applicants³. Currently, all undergraduate programs, pre-programs, and undeclared programs are impacted at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Fresno State, CSU Fullerton, and CSU Long Beach campuses.

With the problem of overcrowding comes the problem of impaction. Impaction refers to when a university has reached or surpassed existing enrollment capacity in terms of its instructional resources and physical size. The problem that comes with impaction is that many college students have trouble getting the classes that they need to graduate. Impaction can occur in general education classes, which all college students are required to take. Impaction can also occur on a larger scale in popular majors, such as nursing, kinesiology, communication, and psychology. All of these majors are listed as impacted at nearly every CSU campus. When a major is impacted it means that schools have accepted more students under that major than the school has resources for. This makes it more difficult for students to get classes in their major, ultimately resulting in having to extend their undergraduate education beyond 4 years. The average expected time to graduate from college was previously 4 years, but now, with it becoming harder to get into the classes needed to graduate, this time is being

The problems of impaction and overcrowding are going to affect college-enrolled students and students hoping to enroll in college for years to come. It is important to be aware of these problems prior to choosing a college, because if a student’s major is one that is impacted, they may not graduate within four years as they had planned. These problems should not sway students away from applying to these great schools; however, being aware of this problem is key to planning for students’ futures as they apply to schools and begin to enroll in college courses.

¹ “Impacted Undergraduate Majors and Campuses, 2019-20 | CSU.”

² “Why It’s So Hard for In-State Students to Get Into a UC … – The Atlantic.” 1 Dec. 2015, Accessed 25 Apr. 2019.

³ “Overcrowding in America’s Colleges and … – Online Universities.” 22 May. 2013, Accessed 25 Apr. 2019.


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