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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Temporary adjustments made to admissions requirements for prospective undergraduate and graduate students

UC Davis undergraduate and graduate programs consider holistic review and work to eliminate COVID-19-related disruptions in application process

In a press release from April 1, the UC announced temporary adjustments to admissions requirements for undergraduate students.  

Some of these adjustments include suspending letter grade requirements for A-G courses for 2020 and suspending standardized testing requirements for the 2021 freshman application cycle. For transfer students, “the cap on the number of transferable units with ‘pass/no pass’ grading applied toward the minimum 60 semester/90 quarter units required for junior standing” was adjusted. Additionally, rescission of student admissions stemming from official transcripts not being mailed in by the deadline will not occur.

“The University of California is committed to ensuring that COVID-19-related academic disruptions do not harm or threaten any student’s ability to apply for a UC education,” said Stett Holbrook, a senior communications strategist at the University of California Office of the President, via email. “To that end, the University announced on April 1 temporary adjustments to admissions requirements to help students and families.” 

Holbrook said that different UC campuses evaluate applications differently. 

“The University’s comprehensive review policy for admission is based on multiple factors and measures of student achievement,” Holbrook said. “Students interested in applying to UC should prepare by completing required courses and taking advantage of any challenging college preparatory courses and/or programs available to them.” 

Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions Ebony Lewis said via email that UC Davis uses a freshman holistic review process.

“[Individuals on the admissions committee] give thoughtful consideration of the full spectrum of the applicant’s qualifications based upon all information provided in the application, viewed in the context of the applicant’s academic and personal circumstances and the overall strength of UC Davis’ applicant pool,” Lewis said.

According to Lewis, the applicant pool typically includes strong applicants, and the admissions committee searches for future Aggies based on potential future contribution to, and participation in, the UC Davis community.

“Each year we review a large pool of academically strong applicants who have demonstrated the intellectual curiosity, tenacity, special talents, academic achievement and commitment to community service expected of the UC Davis graduate,” Lewis said. “We look for applicants who will contribute the most to and immerse themselves in UC Davis’ dynamic learning environment.” 

Lewis said she advises students to complete the application thoroughly; use personal insight questions to “provide greater content and context about who you are as a student, your experiences and what matters to you” and use the additional comments section to include other information that applicants believe is critical to consider in one’s application. 

Lewis also said that UC Davis does not assign a fixed weight to any particular area of the application, as UC Davis seeks well-rounded students. The admissions committee looks for unique personal accomplishments and talents that “have the potential to make significant contributions to the campus, the State of California, the nation and world,” according to Lewis. 

“Take a deep breath, do your best, submit your application by the deadline, and know that it will work out,” Lewis said. “We are here to support.” 

UC Davis has also addressed two primary concerns expressed by prospective graduate applicants for this admissions cycle. 

Brian Gallagher, the director of admissions and academic services for graduate studies, said via email that the UC Davis Graduate Studies and Graduate Council—a division of the Academic Senate—“have provided guidance to all graduate programs to help ensure that students are not adversely affected by S/U or P/NP grading in the admissions review process.”

This change stems from colleges and universities adopting pass/no pass or satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading this past year, Gallagher said.

Second, changes to the GRE and English language testing requirements have been made for certain departments.

“This year, all but one graduate program has waived their GRE requirement, and Graduate Studies has expanded [the] options for English language exams we will accept from prospective students,” Gallagher said. 

Overall, Gallagher said that UC Davis Graduate Studies has been a strong advocate for a holistic admissions process. 

“Graduate programs in particular value an applicant’s preparation and motivation for participating in the graduate program, their interest or specializations in the field, any future career goals or professional objectives, and their overall fit with the program itself,” Gallagher said. “Graduate programs want to make certain that prospective students are well-prepared to join their program as contributing members of their graduate 

For example, Laramie Taylor, the department and graduate program chair of  communication at UC Davis, said via email that the program values fit, preparation and potential. 

“We’re looking for applicants whose interests fit with our program’s areas of emphasis and strength, applicants whose preparation in terms of past coursework and experience has likely readied them for the rigors of graduate study in general and our program in particular and applicants whose materials suggest that they have the potential to be successful in carrying out independent, theoretically-driven, innovative research in communication,” Taylor said.  

Gallagher said that the Graduate Studies office continues to work with graduate programs and applicants on any issues they may potentially face due to the circumstances of COVID-19.

“We want to do the best we can to ensure that prospective students are not at a disadvantage in the admissions process due to events beyond their control,” Gallagher said. 
Written by: Aarya Gupta — campus@theaggie.org

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