Campus eliminates admissions pathway

UCSD’s admissions office has eliminated its policy of granting extra consideration to San Diego and Imperial Counties applicants in response to complaints from the UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools.

B.O.A.R.S. found that the policy, which members considered to be local favoritism, was inconsistent with criteria outlined in the the university’s official admission policy, “which specifically aims to promote geographic diversity in the student population.”

In a resolution, the board spoke out against UCSD’s admissions processes after it became clear that the campus, along with UCLA, admitted students through policies inconsistent with those adopted by the regents, according to B.O.A.R.S. Chair Michael Brown.

The goal of the decision was to create a more level playing field for all applicants and encourage the growth of admissions from all geographic areas, according to Brown.

After legal action challenged the local preferences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, B.O.A.R.S. began checking whether any UC campuses used similar practices, according to Brown. The question was first discussed at the January 2004 B.O.A.R.S. meeting, he said.

“The question for B.O.A.R.S. to consider was whether or not it was right for students with the same basic educational backgrounds as others to be granted preferential treatment in the admissions process,” Brown said. “We concluded that the practices at UCSD and UCLA were not in line with the rules for UC admissions.”

Beginning in 1999, UCSD admitted a small number of students each year from San Diego and Imperial Counties using criteria from the Eligibility in the Local Context program, a UC-wide initiative that provides admission to a UC campus to California students in the top 4 percent of their high school graduating class based upon GPA, according to Assistant Vice Chancellor for Admissions and Enrollment Services Mae W. Brown. After the regular admissions process was complete, UCSD admissions personnel would take a second look at students not admitted from high schools in local counties.

After first eliminating students not eligible for the university based on coursework, admissions personnel then looked at students in the top 4 percent of their graduating class who met the criteria for ELC. If fewer than 4 percent were admitted from a San Diego county high school, UCSD admissions officers would then accept additional applicants until that percentage was met, according to Brown. The practice, while beneficial, had minimal impact in the long run, she said.

“Four percent of a high school graduating class doesn’t amount to a very high number,” Brown said. “Accordingly, there were not that many students admitted based on this policy, especially when compared to the total number of students we accept each year.”

In 2003, there were 166 students accepted based on the policy out of a total of 17,618 admits, according to Brown. In 2004, the number rose slightly, with 183 students out of 17,189 being accepted due to their geographic location.

B.O.A.R.S. found the pratice to be too narrowly tailored to meet the goal of promoting geographic diversity, Brown said.

“After the UC came to its decision regarding how to apply the geographical diversity criteria we were asked to discontinue our program, and we did,” Brown said.

The admissions policy at UCLA, also discontinued by B.O.A.R.S. resolution, operated differently but had similar results, according to Brown.

“At UCLA, the program in question was designed to help out students from challenged neighborhoods,” Brown said. “But due to the fact that UCLA only had information on the neighborhoods of this type that were in close proximity to campus, the overall effect was the same.”

However, the exact number of students admitted under UCLA’s policy is unclear, as the school uses a broader admissions system that is different from UCSD’s point-based approach, Brown said.

“The idea behind encouraging geographical diversity amongst the student body is to try and get students from all different areas,” Brown said. “These policies were, in effect, completely contrary to that goal.”