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College Admissions Policy
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The Perfect World >> Social Policy >> College Admissions Policy

College Admissions Policy

Piccie -- Sunday, March 14, 2004 -- 08:00:35 PM

What factors should universities consider when admitting students? How large a role should the SAT play? What about leadership? Overcoming adversity?

Should universities only admit the very "best" students, or are there other policy objectives a school might wish to obtain?

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Elf -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 05:09:38 AM -- 3 of 528
A meeeeeeean person. -- Calgal

I want the entire article, dammit,
Ask and ye shall receive ;-)

College Capers
John Moores, 03.29.04

Defying voters, UC, Berkeley is admitting kids with low SAT scores and rejecting high achievers.When Governor Gray Davis appointed me to the Board of Regents of the University of California in 1999, I recognized the university's responsibility to extend the opportunity for academic achievement to as many capable students as the resources of the nation's premier public university allow. Sadly, today's UC admissions policies are victimizing students--not just those unfairly denied admission but also many with low college entrance exam scores who were admitted and can't compete.

The California electorate voted to stop racial preference in college admission in 1996. Since then UC administrators have been manipulating the admissions system and, I believe, thwarting the law. (Although I have been the board's chairman since 2002, I'm just one vote.) UC, Berkeley, the top school in the UC system, is admitting "underrepresented minorities" with very low SAT scores while rejecting many applicants with high SAT scores.

Prompted by many complaints from parents whose high-scoring children were rejected by Berkeley, I started probing admissions records. I learned that 359 students with combined SAT scores of 1,000 or less were admitted to Berkeley in 2002, accounting for 3% of the 10,905 students admitted that year. (The national SAT average is about 1,000.) Of those 359 students, 231 were from underrepresented minorities--meaning blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans. Only 19 of the low scorers were white. Some 1,421 Californians with SAT scores above 1,400 applying to the same departments at Berkeley were not admitted. Of those, 662 were Asian-American, while 62 were from the underrepresented minorities.

How did the university get away with discriminating so blatantly against Asians? Through an admissions policy with the vague term "comprehensive review." The policy includes factors like disabilities, low family income, first generation to attend college, need to work, disadvantaged social or educational environment, difficult personal and family situations. This means that a student from a poor background whose parents didn't go to college is given preference over a kid raised by middle-class, educated parents--all other things being equal.

Nobody believes that the SAT is a perfect predictor of academic success, but it's silly to pretend that very low scoring applicants should be admitted to one of America's premier universities with the expectation that somehow these students will learn material that they missed in K-12.

Needless to say, there is no hard weighting system at Berkeley for any of the fuzzy factors mentioned above. The result is an admissions system that is impossible to audit and that offers a cover for university administrators who don't want the media hounding them over declining minority enrollment.

The university is saying it is tilting the balance in favor of disadvantaged students as opposed to merely engaging in racial discrimination. Whatever the truth of that assertion, any good that comes from giving disadvantaged kids a leg up is undone if the tilting goes too far. It goes too far when kids who struggled with eighth-grade math have to compete with kids who aced advanced-placement calculus.

Another disappointment is the many "outreach" programs that were funded post-1996 to create more diversity at the university. As I see it, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on encouraging poor, often minority, high school students to apply to UC even if they have very low SAT scores. But the outreach programs have had perverse consequences. The victims are the kids who should have gone to one of California's outstanding community colleges, where they might have had the possibility of success and a chance to grow intellectually.

California's public higher education is the best in the world. UC should ensure that its policies are consistent with its well-deserved reputation. The university's admission process should be legal and fair, and the criteria for admission should be transparent to the public. Students should understand that the path into UC is pretty straightforward: Work hard, take demanding courses and demonstrate academic success.

CalGal -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 05:15:49 AM -- 4 of 528
I remember a time, back in the late 90s, when I thought nonsense like this mattered somewhat more than I do now. Now I see well-educated people yammering about the birth control choices of their daughters, or gay marriage, and I think they are morons.

This means that a student from a poor background whose parents didn't go to college is given preference over a kid raised by middle-class, educated parents--all other things being equal.

All other things being equal? Hardly.

Racehorse -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 01:02:35 PM -- 5 of 528

If things are truly equal, then I don't see a problem with it. But it doesn't sound as if things are equal.

CalGal -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 04:12:43 PM -- 6 of 528
I remember a time, back in the late 90s, when I thought nonsense like this mattered somewhat more than I do now. Now I see well-educated people yammering about the birth control choices of their daughters, or gay marriage, and I think they are morons.

They aren't. There are X number of students who are incapable of performing at an elite university. Some of them are getting in anyway, over X number of students who are capable.

j. ross -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 04:15:38 PM -- 7 of 528

But surely the people who run the school must believe that they can teach the less qualified studnets that they are letting in to succeed. Or are they so obsessed with race statistics that they are behaving completly irrationally?

Ase -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 04:17:29 PM -- 8 of 528
"Cold cold empty void", "Grandma's food for worms now". Atheist hymns, by Jamie R.

I suspect they are irrational.

CalGal -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 04:18:15 PM -- 9 of 528
I remember a time, back in the late 90s, when I thought nonsense like this mattered somewhat more than I do now. Now I see well-educated people yammering about the birth control choices of their daughters, or gay marriage, and I think they are morons.

I don't even think it's debatable.

j. ross -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 04:20:36 PM -- 10 of 528

Do they keep stats on who flunks out at Berkely? How do other stupider groups do, say their athletes?

CalGal -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 04:22:00 PM -- 11 of 528
I remember a time, back in the late 90s, when I thought nonsense like this mattered somewhat more than I do now. Now I see well-educated people yammering about the birth control choices of their daughters, or gay marriage, and I think they are morons.

I don't think it matters whether they flunk out. They can't do the work, so if Berkeley gives them fluff courses and babies them through, it's still irrational. They aren't learning, and Berkeley isn't meeting its mandate.

dirt track date -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 06:38:20 PM -- 12 of 528
Shit is fucked up and bullshit

That's crazy. If Berkeley really cared about these kids, they'd set up a guaranteed transfer program with community college feeder schools. Attend this college, take these classes, get a 2.5 GPA and your AA and you're in. That way an average kid COULD have a shot at Berkeley, but not without jumping through certain hoops to weed out the kids who just won't be able to cut it.

GregD -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 06:43:14 PM -- 13 of 528
After the power to choose a man wants the power to erase. --Stephen Dunn

The UC & CSU systems do indeed have that exact feeder program. Take this 2-year schedule, get at least a 3.0, get immediate admission to any state school you want because you've done alright academically and shown persistence. That's how my otherwise lackluster student sister got into (and matriculated from) UCLA.

dirt track date -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 09:30:35 PM -- 14 of 528
Shit is fucked up and bullshit

If the feeder system is already in place then its even crazier not to use it...that's exactly what it's for.

Ellie Mayhem -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 09:40:34 PM -- 15 of 528

yeah, I'm sorry, you're black/latino/Native American...you're just naturally stupid...let's not hold you to any sort of high standard.

Piccie -- Monday, March 15, 2004 -- 09:55:38 PM -- 16 of 528

But surely the people who run the school must believe that they can teach the less qualified studnets that they are letting in to succeed.

They definitely believe this. There is the saying that Berkeley will either "make them or take them" -- they say they want to find students that they can transform as well as those who are already performing at a very high level.

This is hardly limited to Berkeley. Stanford brags about how many valedictorians and people with 1600 SAT scores they turn away.

sweet pea -- Tuesday, March 16, 2004 -- 06:33:49 AM -- 17 of 528
I hate it when I'm inflexible about things that are stupid.

I generally agree with all of you, especially Ellie, but one thing struck me about his stats.

There are X number of students who are incapable of performing at an elite university. Some of them are getting in anyway, over X number of students who are capable.

But according to the article, X number of people theoretically incapable of performing at an elite university are accepted over 4X number of students who are theoretically capable. 4X. He looked into this because of, basically, parent complaints. Even without the existing policy he would still be getting 3/4 the complaints he gets now.

I am not convinced that letting in almost 360 kids who might not be able to make it (but might) out of 11,000 is so wildly unfair to those 1062 who wouldn't have gotten in anyway. I'm not even convinced that it is unfair to the 360 kids who WOULD have gotten in anyway, since out of 11,000 one could surmise that they might have been kind of marginal anyway, though I have great sympathy to them individually. Oh, and it looks like 109 of the underperforming kids who got in were probably Asian.

Yes, I think that letting in kids who are destined to fail is a miserable idea. The article does not address how those 359 kids actually did, however. How many of them actually failed out? And what is the comparison to the rate of failure of the kids who get over 1400? I think if they're going to let people in based on things like legacy they should also let some people in who have other stuff going on that makes them less obvious candidates but who still have a high chance of success.

CalGal -- Tuesday, March 16, 2004 -- 09:27:55 AM -- 18 of 528
I remember a time, back in the late 90s, when I thought nonsense like this mattered somewhat more than I do now. Now I see well-educated people yammering about the birth control choices of their daughters, or gay marriage, and I think they are morons.

Sweetpea, that whole post is so pathetic that I just deleted my response rather than waste time reading whatever swill you'd come up with next.

CalGal -- Tuesday, March 16, 2004 -- 09:31:45 AM -- 19 of 528
I remember a time, back in the late 90s, when I thought nonsense like this mattered somewhat more than I do now. Now I see well-educated people yammering about the birth control choices of their daughters, or gay marriage, and I think they are morons.

Oh, and it looks like 109 of the underperforming kids who got in were probably Asian.

I will bother with this one, just to remind you of some basic California demographics. Chances are very good that the majority of the 109 were from Tonga and Samoa, and if you were unaware that not all Asian countries manage the same degree of high performance, then you really should read up.

dirt track date -- Tuesday, March 16, 2004 -- 04:20:39 PM -- 20 of 528
Shit is fucked up and bullshit

Does the UC system give any advantage to legacies?

CalGal -- Tuesday, March 16, 2004 -- 04:35:12 PM -- 21 of 528
I remember a time, back in the late 90s, when I thought nonsense like this mattered somewhat more than I do now. Now I see well-educated people yammering about the birth control choices of their daughters, or gay marriage, and I think they are morons.

I doubt it.

MsIt -- Tuesday, March 16, 2004 -- 04:54:23 PM -- 22 of 528

I don't think public universities give any preference to legacy children anymore, legislatures have mostly filtered this out through insistence on baseline standards and non-discriminatory policies. Besides, the public wouldn't stand for this anymore.

Private schools, however, still set aside a hefty number of entering slots for legacy children.

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The Perfect World >> Social Policy >> College Admissions Policy