Years of hard work earned Mary Hale an associate degree in 3-D animation and video game art, a 3.8 GPA and a magna cum laude distinction. But it didn't get her the one thing she was counting on for her future: a coveted spot in San Jose State's highly regarded animation program.
Once the ticket for aspiring animators of modest means to enter the region's thriving entertainment industry, San Jose State has tightened admission to its animation-illustration program under the pressure of high demand and reduced funding.
Only 12 percent of community college transfer applicants made the cut, as Hale and others learned at a spring orientation.
"They took us into a room and they told us the bad news," said Hale, a graduate of Canada College in Redwood City. "It was very discouraging."
This year, the Silicon Valley university and four other California State University campuses had more applicants than spaces in every major, from philosophy to computer science. The same was true in more than 200 majors across the Cal State system -- twice as many as four years ago.