University Of California Changes Admission Requirements So More Will Apply
The University of California system has implemented new freshman admission requirements for Fall 2012 that the Board of UC Regents says will increase the number of underprivileged and minority applicants. The big change: SAT II subject test scores will no longer be required.
Instead, UC admission officials say that the SAT reasoning test and high school GPA will be the major factors when considering admission.
The new admission requirements will not change the number of students admitted, but it will broaden the pool of applicants. In the high-stakes world of college admissions, many high school students and their counselors are becoming nervous and confused.
“There has been a little anxiety… and the anxiety comes from: ‘If they’re not required- if I don’t take them- will that penalize me?’ and we’ve been open and honest that it will not have any negative impact if you don’t take them,” said Merlyn Campos, the undergraduate admissions director at the University of California, Riverside.
According to Campos, preliminary numbers of UC freshman applications are already up 19 percent from previous years because of the new admission requirements.
“In the past, students who didn’t take the SAT II subject exams were not considered further for admission because they hadn’t met the minimum requirement,” said Campos. “So now those students will be considered for admission at the campuses they apply to.”
Prior to the admission changes, the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, which is the academic senate committee for the University of California, conducted a study on admissions policies to see what changes could be made to allow more students to apply.
Campos said some of their analyses showed that the SAT II subject tests were not good predictors of success and performance at the university level and were therefore considered for removal.
Previously, students were asked to take no more than three exams in the subjects of their choice in order to show strengths in certain fields such as a foreign language or a natural science. Applicants to UC schools can still submit SAT II scores, but that is where it gets confusing.
According to the UC Office of the President, the SAT II scores will no longer be considered. The scores may, however, benefit the student if the scores are noteworthy.
Adding to the confusion, some science and engineering programs are “recommending” that students applying for those majors still take the tests.
Jacquie Morck, the head academic counselor at Troy High School in Fullerton, says she doesn’t agree with the changes. Because Troy High is a technical and international baccalaureate magnet school, the classes are more rigorous than those at other schools.
“Basically our grades are lower at Troy High school, kids have lower GPAs because classes are a lot more difficult so [SAT II scores were] our way to validate those courses,” said Morck. “For us, we didn’t like it; other counselors at other schools [may] like it because their kids probably didn't score as well.”
For twin sisters Meghna and Kajori Purkayastha, seniors at Valencia High School in Placentia, the changes were confusing but a bit a relief.
“I found out [about the changes] the summer of my tenth grade year when I was doing my SAT prep classes,” said Meghna. “I was happy that I didn’t have to take another test that defined my college entrance.”
Though no longer an official requirement, many students will opt to take the tests in order to set them apart from those who have not.
“Kids are still going to take the tests because if their scores are seemingly good it will be a little booster for their application,” said Kajori. “Although you don’t have to take it everybody still takes it because apparently the requirements are still ambiguous.”
Because of the confusion and since this will be the first class in UC history not required to submit SAT II subject scores, high school counselors are playing it safe and encouraging students to still take the tests regardless of their prospective major.
“In our case [the SAT II scores] definitely helped the kids,” said Morck. “So now I don’t know because we really haven’t seen how it’s going to play out… But I think when they look at it overall, and they say they do look at it holistically; I think it could only benefit the student.”
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