The University of California is debating an unprecedented change in the way it appraises potential students.
In an effort to admit more traditionally underrepresented students, the UC is considering revamping its freshmen eligibility standards. The policy change, which involves reviewing more potential students and doing away with some standardized testing, could potentially change UC admissions policies in crucial ways.
Hurting us, hurting students
The eligibility reform proposal would no longer require prospective students to take the SAT Subject Tests, formerly known as the SAT II.
Mark Rashid, a past chair to the UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, said the requirement is outdated and useless anyway.
“The SAT subject test requirement is a unique requirement to the UC, as no other public university in the nation uses it,” Rashid said. “We’ve found – through robust study – that those subject test scores tell nothing that is useful in terms of admission judgments.”
According to Rashid, requiring SAT subject test results damages underprivileged students’ chances of admission.
“[The SAT subject tests] are basically worthless to us, and they are hurting us and hurting students,” Rashid said. “Students from disadvantaged backgrounds who don’t have well-informed counselors telling them to take the SAT subject tests and other requirements for admission have had a much harder time getting in to the UC because they didn’t take these tests that really don’t tell us anything worthy about the applicant, anyways.”
Eligible or invisible
The plan introduces a new category for applicants known as “Entitled to Review.” Under Entitled to Review, freshman applicants who fail to meet a weighted 3.0 grade point average but have completed basic college readiness requirements – such as A to G education standards and an SAT Reasoning Test – would still be entitled to having their applications reviewed. Based on the quality of their applications, applicants would get another chance at gaining admission to the UC.
Currently, the UC employs a blanket guarantee that grants all students in the top 12.5 percent of California high schools or the top 4 percent of their graduating class admission to a UC campus. Individuals who fall outside these categories are considered ineligible.
According to Rashid, the Entitled to Review aspect of the eligibility reform is a completely new way of thinking for the UC.
“Right now, it’s [admission requirements are] black and white: You are either eligible or you’re invisible,” Rashid, a professor of Civil Engineering at UC Davis, said. “Under the proposed policy, students who fulfill basic college readiness… would be entitled to, not guaranteed, admission but review, and a possible chance to get in.”
As a subset of Entitled to Review, the proposal would shift the structure of the UC blanket admission guarantee. Eligibility requirements would expand from the top 4 percent of a graduating senior class to the top 9 percent. The statewide criteria would shrink eligibility from the top 12.5 percent of high school students to the top 9 percent. Additionally, there is an attached proposal to lower the minimum GPA for freshmen applicants to 2.8, unweighted.
According to Ricardo Vazquez, a UC spokesperson, the proposal to change freshmen eligibility guidelines has piqued the interest of UC President Mark G. Yudof and stands as a potential action item at the upcoming regents meeting, although no definite date is in sight.
“In a nutshell, [Yudof] favors the proposal conceptually, he agrees with its goals, but still has concerns he has expressed, like how would it affect diversity and an increased workload on campuses,” Vazquez said. “At this point, we don’t know when it will return to the regents as an action item.”