UC’s New Admissions Policy Expected To Increase Minority Enrollment
SAN FRANCISCOCalifornia students who graduate in the top 12.5 percent of their high school class will be guaranteed admission to the University of California, though some may have to go to community college first. Six years after doing away with affirmative action, the university’s board of regents approved a new admissions policy last month that is expected to increase enrollment of Blacks and Hispanics and give a boost to good students from bad high schools. The change “sends a signal to top-performing students, particularly those in disadvantaged high schools, that they have a clear path to a UC degree,” University of California President Richard C. Atkinson said in a statement. The university’s overall admissions policy will still be able to draw from the top 12.5 percent of all students statewide. But because of the varying quality of high schools, that has meant that good schools sent a lot of students to the university system while poor schools sent few. Currently, the top 4 percent of students from each high school in the state are assured admission to one of the University of California’s nine campuses. Under the new dual admissions policy, students who fall between the top 4 percent and 12.5 percent of their class also would be assured admission to the university system if they attended community college for their first two years and met a minimum grade-point average. The board of regents approved the new standard in a 14-3 vote, effective for the fall of 2003. George Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, enthusiastically endorsed the plan. “It gives students the assurance that they can get into UC by coming into the community college and doing well in the community college, and that’s exactly what we need,” he says. Going to community college first is intended to help students meet the university’s academic standards. Boggs says students at the two-year schools typically have more contact with professors and are in smaller classes rather than in large lectures led by teaching assistants. The proposal could bring between 1,500 and 3,500 new community college transfers into the University of California system by 2006. University officials estimate that up to 36 percent of students eligible under the new policy would be Black, Hispanic or American Indian. After race-blind admissions were instituted in 1998, enrollment of those groups dropped sharply. The numbers have increased since then — 18.6 percent of the university’s fall 2001 freshman class — but they are still below 1997 levels at the ultra-competitive campuses of Berkeley and UCLA.
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