University of California President Mark Yudof expressed tentative support for a faculty-originated plan to restructure the freshman admissions process at the regents‘ September meeting at UC Irvine.
The plan, which would take effect in fall 2012, aims to expand the number of applications entitled to review by eliminating the SAT II subject test scores requirement. Supporters say this would allow a pool of otherwise qualified applicants who failed to take the test to be visible to UC.
“I was very reserved about this proposal because, frankly, it took me a very long time to understand it,“ Yudof said during the meeting.
After two information sessions dedicated to the proposal, Yudof said he was 80 percent convinced but still had concerns about the increased workload the plan would cause admissions offices. Yufof’s provisional support could enable the plan to see a formal vote at the regents‘ November meeting.
“I think I’m sensing support for the proposal but it’s in the hands of the regents,” said Mark Rashid, UC Davis professor of civil and environmental engineering and the former chair of the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, the committee that originated the proposal. “They had some things they wanted to get better understood.“
The current admissions process determines UC eligibility based on three factors – completion of 15 college preparatory courses, submission of SAT reasoning test scores as well as SAT subject tests 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 would be reduced to 10 percent to make room in the system for the new pool of applicants entitled to review.
“One problem with the current system is that many, many students who are actually very good high achieving students wind up ineligible for trifling reasons,” Rashid said. “They didn’t take the right course or the right test and a lot of them have very high GPAs. They just didn’t get good advice.“
Every year, 15 percent of the California applicant pool is deemed 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.
“The current structure is a hoop jumping exercise,” Rashid said.
The proposal would introduce a “gray” zone for these applicants so they would at least have their applications reviewed, although they aren’t guaranteed admission as other traditionally eligible applicants are.
“Most universities now sort of have three zones: a presumptive admit, a broad discretionary zone and presumptive denial,” Yudof said. “California was odd because you’re either eligible or ineligible. If you’re eligible, you have a shot. If you’re ineligible, you’re out.“
According to a 2003 study done by the California Post-Secondary Education Commission, students that fall into the ineligible category are from traditionally unrepresented ethnic groups and from lower income areas that don’t have college-going cultures.
“We have a public institution and we shouldn’t say, ‘Sorry you didn’t get good advice, but that’s too bad,‘” Rashid said.
There is no organized opposition to the faculty proposal.
ALYSOUN BONDE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.