UCSD revises admissions

UCSD has revised its undergraduate admissions policy to comply with the UC Board of Regents’ newly adopted standards of comprehensive review.

Chris Padfield

UCSD’s new process, which will be implemented beginning fall 2002, will involve three “”reviews,”” or phases.

The initial review will consider a mix of academic criteria. Applicants’ grade point averages will be examined, along with test scores and the number of UC-required A-G courses taken beyond the minimum required.

UCSD admissions personnel will also take into account other factors in the first review, including “”eligibility in the local context,”” low family income, first-generation college attendance and “”educational environment”” — which is identified as attending schools in the the fourth or fifth performance quintiles in the state.

UCSD Director of Admissions and Relations with Schools Mae Brown said 28 to 30 percent of those accepted will be accepted in the initial review.

The second review, through which most of the remainder of applicants will be accepted, consists of the actual reading of applications.

A reader pool will be looking for applicants who demonstrate leadership, special talents and achievements, and those involved in volunteer or community service. Also examined will be special circumstances or personal challenges that applicants experienced.

Personal challenges are defined as a “”difficult personal or family situation, need to work, disability (physical or learning), veteran status, single-parent household, personal growth or life-altering event(s).””

“”Applicants with the highest level of academic and personal achievement profile will be admitted in sufficient numbers to meet the campus enrollment goals,”” according to the policy.

The final review will admit applicants not otherwise admitted from San Diego and Imperial counties who graduated in the top 4 percent of their high-school classes. Brown said the final review will admit few students.

UCSD’s new policy was developed this summer by the UCSD Committee on Admissions, which consists of representatives from all faculty divisions, a student representative Lance Feller and three administrators, one with voting rights. Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Richard Backer is a voting member of the body, and Brown and Director of Student Research Bill Armstrong sit on the committee as ex-officio members.

Brown said the committee does not believe the admissions change will degrade the quality of students admitted to UCSD.

“”The comprehensive review process is not likely to change significantly the academic profile of admitted students,”” she said. “”We’ve been using the very same factors for four or five years.””

Simulations conducted by the admissions department this summer found that the majority of students would still come from major areas of California, including the Los Angeles area and the San Francisco Bay Area, Brown said.

The old system of admissions at UCSD, which was mandated by the SP-1 legislation that outlawed affirmative action, consisted of a two-tiered review of applicants. Fifty percent of those admitted to UCSD were accepted on purely academic standards, the minimum number required by SP-1. The other half went through review and reading.

“”What we’ve done now is shift from 50-50 to a broader review of the larger applicant pool,”” Brown said.

The admissions environment at UCSD is becoming increasingly competitive. Brown said that 11,000 applicants to UCSD last year had 4.0 grade point averages or better.

“”You have to look at other factors when it’s so competitive,”” she said.

Brown also denied allegations that the new program is designed to recruit minorities, saying that the new admissions policy adheres to Proposition 209.

“”It is not a back door to affirmative action,”” she said. “”I think the changes [ethnically] are going to be marginal.””

UCSD will be hiring more readers for the application process. Retired faculty, as well as high school counselors, will be asked to read applications for undergraduate admission.

“”This year we’re planning to read over 30,000 files to admit our freshman class,”” Brown said.

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