Reflecting a new, more comprehensive admissions policy, UCSB’s incoming freshman class of 2002 continues to improve the campus’ ethnic and economic diversity, but average test scores and grades dropped slightly compared to last year’s freshmen.

Preliminary statistics from the Office of Admissions show more ethnic minorities and lower socioeconomic groups are choosing to attend UCSB. Forty-one percent of this fall’s incoming freshmen are from minority groups, up from 37 percent in fall of 2001. The mean reported parent income of under $15,000 increased from 4 percent in the fall of 2001 to 6 percent for the incoming class.

“This fall’s entering class will be the most diverse in UCSB’s history,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang, “The members of this class also have very impressive academic credentials.”

SAT scores and overall GPAs of this year’s incoming freshmen have dropped compared to last year’s freshmen. In the fall of 2001, the average SAT score for an incoming freshman was 1192, compared to this year’s average score of 1180. The average GPA of the previous year’s freshmen was 3.73, compared to this year’s average freshman GPA of 3.70.

Still, Newsweek magazine recently ranked UCSB as one of this year’s top 12 “hot” colleges in the nation based on academics, affordable prices and renewed scientific and technological research.

“The main reason is because we have a bigger class and that’s what is going to bring down the SAT [score]. I’d hate to have people [sort facts] together and say the SATs dropped because you have more underrepresented students and lower income students and that’s not the case. It’s just statistically, when you admit a large class, GPA and SATs tend to go down,” said Lisa Przekop, associate director of Admissions and Outreach Services.

This year’s incoming freshman class was the first class to be selected using the University of California’s “Comprehensive Admissions Review” process, which looks at extracurricular activities.

Comprehensive review includes extracurricular activities, special talents, academic accomplishments under disadvantaged circumstances and special leadership or intellectual qualities of a student in addition to SAT scores and GPA.

“The comprehensive review is going to allow us to look at students with a much broader background, and those are the students who are going to do well and also make UCSB a better place,” Przekop said. “In that respect, the comprehensive review is going to change what we’re calling the best student.”

“We seek to identify those students who have demonstrated the capacity for high academic achievement and promise and who have a variety of other qualities that can contribute to the strength and diversity of our campus,” Yang said.

The UC Regents passed the Comprehensive Admissions Review process in November 2001.

“I’m not concerned about lowering the academic achievement of our students. On the contrary, I believe comprehensive review preserves academic excellence,” said UC Regent Monica Lozano in the November Regents meeting at UCSF. “We are not rewarding disadvantaged students; we are rewarding students who have met the challenges that they had to face.”

UCSB has been actively involved in high school and community college outreach, promoting UCSB at high schools where students traditionally do not chose to apply to or attend UCSB.

“The schools that we are targeting are schools that tend to be those that have the potential to increase the diversity at UCSB,” Przekop said. “We do visit schools that are traditional feeders to us, but we’re also targeting schools in the urban South-Central L.A. area, San Diego, and Oakland. Those are schools that don’t traditionally send a lot of students to UCSB.”

The Admissions and Outreach office at UCSB works with both students and high schools to help prepare students for application to the University of California system. They educate prospective students on what classes they should take, how the application process works, and provide high school counselors with information to help students be more competitive when applying to UC schools.