The undergraduate admissions process at the University of California will soon be reviewed in partial response to a recent study at UC Berkeley.
The Berkeley study, commissioned by UC Board of Regents Chair John Moores, revealed that in 2002 UC Berkeley accepted 378 students with SAT I scores under 1000, well below the incoming class’ average score of 1337. The study showed that UC Berkeley did not accept several hundred students with higher SAT I scores and encouraged further review of UC admissions policy.
The current admissions system, called comprehensive review, takes a holistic look at applicants, taking into account factors like SAT scores, grade point average, academic performance, extracurricular activities and community involvement, as well as personal obstacles overcome.
Barbara Sawrey, vice chair of the Chemistry Dept. at UC San Diego and chair of the Academic Senate’s Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, said that “the UC admissions system is really quite complex.”
“We use 14 different criteria in the application review process,” Sawrey said. “If you look at only one criteria out of 14, you won’t see a predictable ranking of students.”
The Moores study also mentioned that 238 out of the 378 students with sub-1000 scores were “underrepresented minorities.”
Richard Flacks, UCSB professor of sociology and member of the admissions board, said the statistic should come as no surprise.
“That’s the point of comprehensive review – to give students from diverse social and economic backgrounds a chance,” Flacks said. “If they overcame adversity, there is a good chance that they are of an ethnic minority.”
Admissions throughout the UC system will now undergo a review of admissions policy, but the scope of the review and the makeup of the study group that will undertake it have not yet been announced.
Michael Brown, UCSB professor of education and vice chair of the admissions board, said new UC President Robert Dynes discussed reviewing the systemwide admissions process before taking office, and the review was not ordered in response to Moores’ Berkeley study.
“The study group was already in the works, and the announcement of the review just happened to coincide with Moores’ report,” Brown said.
Flacks said California’s budget crisis might affect UC admissions policy in the future. The legislature recently announced that it would not provide funds to accommodate all eligible students at the University of California.
“This is historic. Until now, the UC system has promised to accept, and fund, all qualified [in-state] students,” Flacks said. “This is a break in its trust with the people of California.”
The current minimum eligibility requirements for the UC system are intended to make it possible for the top 12.5 percent of students in California, based on high school GPA, SAT I and II scores, to attend one of the UC campuses.
Flacks said those current requirements would most likely be among the admissions policies reviewed and adjusted.
“We’re going to have a new eligibility requirement in a very short time,” Flacks said.
Flacks said he thought the University would deal with the funding restraints either by making requirements tougher or raising tuition again.