The University of California Board of Regents today (Nov. 15) approved a modified selection process for freshman admissions that will lead to a more thorough and complete review of the qualifications a student presents when applying to one of UC's eight undergraduate campuses.
Called "comprehensive review," the process will continue to ensure the admission of highly qualified students by allowing UC campuses to consider the broad variety of academic and personal qualifications that all applicants present on the application. It replaces the previous "two-tiered" process in which each campus was required to admit 50-75 percent of its freshman students solely on the basis of certain academic factors.
The Regents voted 15-4 to endorse the comprehensive review policy, which was proposed by the Academic Senate, the representative body of the UC faculty. The comprehensive review process, similar to that used by many of the nation's most selective public and private universities, will take effect for students applying to UC for fall 2002 entrance.
"We expect comprehensive review to enhance our campuses' ability to select each year a class of thoroughly qualified students who demonstrate the promise to make great contributions to the university community and to the larger society beyond," said UC President Richard C. Atkinson.
"We believe this policy sends a strong signal that UC is looking for students who have achieved at high levels and, in doing so, have challenged themselves to the greatest extent possible."
"Academic performance is at the heart of the admissions process, and that fact will not change," added Chand R. Viswanathan, chair of the systemwide Academic Council. "Preserving and strengthening the academic quality of the university is a crucial concern for the UC faculty. We believe that a full review of the qualifications an applicant presents is truly our best means of admitting a high-achieving, highly motivated freshman class each year."
Despite the change, most of the UC admissions process actually will remain the same:
Students are still encouraged to prepare academically for UC by taking the most demanding college preparatory course pattern available in their high school, including all the UC-required "a-g" courses in core subject areas.
Students will still become eligible for the UC system in the same ways they currently do, and all UC-eligible students will still be guaranteed admission to at least one UC campus. Students attain eligibility for the UC system by completing the "a-g" coursework and by achieving grades and standardized test scores that meet the requirements of UC's numerical eligibility index. Students can also become UC-eligible by ranking in the top 4 percent of their high school on the basis of grades in the "a-g" courses through the "Eligibility in the Local Context" program. These processes remain the same.
Individual UC campuses will still select their freshman class from the pool of UC-eligible students, and the criteria that campuses use will also remain the same. There are 14 selection criteria - 10 academic criteria, and four "supplemental" criteria that evaluate other student characteristics such as special talents, unusual intellectual or leadership skills, and accomplishments in the face of personal challenges, among other things. The criteria are the same as have been used in UC's admissions process in recent years.
The change is that UC campuses are now able to select the full freshman class on the basis of all 14 criteria, considering all the information and qualifications a student presents in the application. Previously, UC campuses were required to admit 50-75 percent of the class on the basis of the academic criteria alone, and the balance of the class on the basis of the academic criteria plus the supplemental criteria.
Comprehensive review means that students' records will be analyzed not only for their grades and test scores - important baseline indicators of academic potential - but for additional evidence of such qualities as motivation, leadership, intellectual curiosity, and initiative. These qualities play an important role in student success in an academic environment as rigorous and challenging as that of the University of California, and they can be demonstrated in a variety of ways, through a variety of achievements and experiences. Consideration of these factors has long been part of the admissions process at many of the nation's most selective universities.
The Regents endorsed comprehensive review with the understanding that the board will receive an annual report on the effects of the new process and that comprehensive review "shall be used fairly, shall not use racial preferences of any kind, and shall comply with Proposition 209."
Students applying to UC for fall 2002 - who are filing applications during the month of November 2001 - should not approach the application process any differently.
"Students and parents should have the confidence of knowing that all applicants to a UC campus will now be evaluated on the same criteria and that the broad range of information on the application will be reviewed as thoroughly as possible," Atkinson said.