As a 2008 graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, I am bothered by the UC Board of Regents’ proposal to lower admission standards and eliminate the SAT II Subject Tests for several reasons. Most importantly, this proposal will change the way that people view UCSB and other UC schools, while at the same time placing an even greater burden on the UC budget.
The UC system is intended to have a merit-based admissions process, meaning those individuals who have a proven record of excellence are admitted because they have shown they have what it takes to succeed. There is no reason to help more students qualify, when thousands of qualified individuals are already being turned down.
It seems the goal of this proposal is to create a more diverse student body through a more holistic approach to admissions. Although this directly contradicts Prop 209, the elimination of affirmative action programs, the real irony is that it will likely end up hurting minorities. Former U.S. Congressman Doug Ose has openly spoken out against the proposal. Writing in an op-ed piece for The Berkeley Daily Planet he stated, “10,010 students were admitted to the UC system in 2007 as a direct result of subject tests. These students had marginal scores on their SATs yet scored 700 or more on their subject tests, demonstrating tremendous knowledge and merit. Among these students last year were more than 4,800 children of Hispanic, Mexican-American or other Latino heritage, and more than 3,700 students from Asian, Asian-American or Pacific Island backgrounds. To say that eliminating subject tests will improve diversity simply does not hold water.”
The effects on diversity can be debated and are certainly subject to interpretation, but what is not debatable is the fiscal impact of this proposal. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle article said that the UC endowment lost $1 billion over the past year and, given the current economic climate, the budget will undoubtedly be cut by the legislature. This proposal will make more students eligible for admissions and will require more attention be paid to each applicant because there will not be a concrete criteria from which to judge. This will require more resources, which will either be passed on to the students in the form of higher tuition or more funding cuts elsewhere.
The reason I value my education from UCSB is because of how hard I had to work to get in and how difficult it was to graduate. It will not help anyone to make it easier to get in because it will make all of our diplomas less valuable and probably create an entire new set of problems for those students who get in, but were not truly prepared.
People come from all over the world to be a part of the UC system because of its reputation. No one wins when we destroy that reputation, especially when it costs money to do so. Please join the fight against this proposal and go to www.saveucstandards.com for more ways you can help.