Sounds like email invitations for the “Bright Beginnings” program (used to be called “Count Me In”) should have gone out and the program website is updated to reflect the Fall 2023 information.
The invited students are the top 9% of California high school seniors who were not admitted to any of the UC campuses where they have applied. Review the UC system’s explanation for how the top 9% is calculated (statewide or local) and check out the Bright Beginnings FAQ for how the program works (there is no cost to accept the invitation, but all other regular fees apply: SIR deposit, orientation fee, etc.).
Accepting the invitation to the “Bright Beginnings” program does NOT require you to commit to Merced (you can decide later whether to SIR). Accepting the invitation also does NOT affect your waitlist or appeal status at other UC campuses. If you have any inclination to attend Merced, accept the invitation now, add the campus to your (hopefully) plethora of backup options, and sort things out when the SIR deadline is closer (keep in mind that the UC SIR deposit is $250 and the practice of saying yes to whichever the next best option comes along through waitlist or appeal can get really expensive with multiple admission offers).
If you are thinking about going to Merced and then transferring to another UC campus later, please consider that the transfer process from a California community college to a UC is more streamlined and easier for you to navigate. When I work with intercampus transfer students, I often have to spend hours looking through course catalogs to figure out which courses from one UC campus will satisfy the major prerequisite requirements at another UC campus. I also see students whose effort to transfer gets derailed by odd requirements that are tricky to satisfy (an example is the upper-division English requirement at UC Davis and UC Irvine) and/or hidden/convoluted major prerequisite requirements (an example is the foreign language requirement for the English major at UCLA). In all honesty, I do NOT recommend attempting intercampus transfer on your own, unless you have excellent analytical skills and enjoy sleuthing through tedious and complex requirements.
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