March 26, 1999
The University of California Board of Regents' Committee on Educational Policy approved changes in freshman eligibility Thursday (March 18) that will make the top 4 percent of students from all California public high schools eligible for UC.
The new criteria ensure access to the university and academic excellence among the pool of students eligible for enrollment at UC's eight general campuses.
UC faculty developed the new criteria following more than a year of analysis and considering ways for the university to increase the number of UC-eligible students in order to meet its obligation to enroll from the top 12.5 percent of California high school graduates and continue to maintain academic quality.
Granting eligibility to students who rank in the top 4 percent of each high school class based on EC-required courses will make nearly 3,600 additional students eligible for the university.
Those new students increase the percentage of high school graduates eligible for UC from 11.1 percent to 12.5 percent as required by the state Master Plan for Higher Education and do not displace students who currently are eligible on a statewide basis.
"This new approach to eligibility represents an historic change in California higher education admissions," said UC President Richard C. Atkinson. "Under this plan, the University of California is sending a clear message especially to young people from rural and inner city schools who may have considered UC beyond their grasp that we will recognize and reward academically accomplished students from every public high school in California."
This new path to eligibility greatly enhances UC's ability to attract students from across the state, particularly from rural and inner city schools.
It also rewards individual academic achievement regardless of the level of educational opportunities available in a student's school.
An analysis of several schools showed that the additional students who would become eligible based on performance at individual high schools have achievement and potential that are comparable to other UC-eligible students.
The mean grade point average of the newly eligible students in the top 4 percent is 3.91, compared to 3.56 for eligible students not in the top 4 percent. The mean SAT I score for the newly eligible students in the top 4 percent is 1025, compared to 1130 for eligible students not in the top 4 percent.
The university is committed to accommodating all eligible students at one of its eight general campuses. However, eligible students are not guaranteed admission to the campus of their choice.
In addition to granting eligibility to students ranked in the top 4 percent of their high school class, the board also adopted other changes to current eligibility criteria.
Visual and performing arts
Recognizing the importance of the arts to the educational experience, the university will require a visual and performing arts course among the 15 yearlong high school courses students must take to become eligible. This change fully aligns the courses required by UC and California State University, making it easier for students and parents to plan for college.
The university will continue to provide incentive for students to take honors courses but will decrease the extra credit given from one grade point to one-half grade point. The faculty have found that one-half grade point extra credit is a better predictor of students' potential for success and performance at the university.
To give students, parents and schools ample time to prepare and plan for these changes, the new criteria will be phased in over a number of years.
In 2001, eligibility will be granted to the top 4 percent of students at each high school.
In 2002, the extra credit given for honors courses will be reduced to one-half point.
In 2003, the visual and performing arts requirements will be one of 15 UC-required courses.