The University of California Board of Regents had the first of many discussions about a faculty proposal aiming to expand the number of freshman applications entitled to review at its meeting earlier this month.
The proposal, pending approval from the regents, would take effect in fall of 2012 by eliminating the requirement for applicants to submit two SAT II subject test scores. Proponents say this would allow a pool of otherwise qualified applicants who didn’t take the tests to be considered for admission to UC.
“We’re the only public university in the country that requires subject exams,” said Mark Rashid, UC Davis professor of civil and environmental engineering and chair of the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, the committee that originated the proposal. “The requirement constrains the pool of students visible to UC and impacts underprivileged groups and students who come from households where neither parent went to college.“
Many of the regents requested more time and data to familiarize themselves with policies and proposed changes.
“We need to get on with this, but I want to do it in a way where everyone around the table has had all their questions answered and all the information to make an informed decision,“ said Regent Eddie Island at the meeting, chair of the Educational Policy Committee, where the proposal was considered.
The regents are scheduled to meet again in September and further discuss the changes, but likely won’t take a vote on the proposal until they meet in November, Rashid said.
“I want to carefully assess this,” said UC President Mark Yudof during the meeting. “It‘s one of the most consequential things the regents will ever do.“
The current admissions process has been in place for decades and determines UC eligibility based on three factors – completion of 15 college preparatory courses, submission of SAT reasoning test scores as well as SAT subject test scores and academic performance in high school. Students who are deemed UC eligible – currently the top 12.5 percent of California high school graduates – are guaranteed admission to at least one of the nine undergraduate campuses. Under the proposed plan, this ratio would be reduced to roughly one out of 10.
While the proposal would eliminate the subject test requirement, individual majors and colleges could still encourage students to submit the scores. The proposal would also allow admissions officers to review the applications of students who have not yet completed the necessary 15 college preparatory courses – provided they are on track to complete them before graduation – by creating a new category of applicants that are entitled to review.
“If you meet certain requirements, the UC will at least read your application,“ Rashid said.
Students in this category would be given a comprehensive review at each campus to which they apply, but would not be guaranteed admission as traditionally UC-eligible students are.
Each year, 15 percent of the California applicant pool is found to be ineligible. In fall 2007, of the 11,000 ineligible applicants, 2,200 had GPAs over 3.5, according to the documents accompanying the regents‘ discussion. These students were denied evaluation of their applications because they failed to take a required course or submit a required test score. Under the proposed plan, the majority of these students would be at least entitled to a review of their applications.
ALYSOUN BONDE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.