Thursday, Nov. 14, 2002
Lavonne Luquis (510) 987-9194
Hanan Eisenman (510) 587-6194


The University of California's new policy of reviewing all freshman applications in a comprehensive manner has been implemented successfully and has maintained the academic strength of the freshman class, according to a new report by the UC faculty.

The report by the Academic Senate also identifies several issues associated with the "comprehensive review" admissions process that are worthy of further study by the faculty as details of the process are refined in the coming years.

"Preserving the University of California's high academic standards is a top priority for the faculty,"said Gayle N. Binion, chair of the systemwide Academic Council and a professor of political science at UC Santa Barbara. "The faculty conducted a very thorough analysis of comprehensive review and found that it was implemented in accordance with regents' policy and in a manner that has maintained consistency and integrity in UC admissions."

In the UC admissions process, applicants are determined to be "UC-eligible" based on their grades in UC-required courses and their scores on standardized tests. All UC-eligible students are guaranteed a place in the UC system, though not necessarily at their campus of choice. Each campus has a selection process to admit students from its pool of UC-eligible applicants.

The policy of comprehensive review was adopted by the UC Board of Regents in November 2001 and implemented for the fall 2002 admissions cycle at the six UC campuses that cannot accommodate all UC-eligible applicants. Under comprehensive review, campus admissions officers use all 14 UC admissions criteria to evaluate applicants, and no UC-eligible applicant is denied admission without a review of the entire application.

Prior to the fall 2002 admissions cycle, the same 14 admissions criteria were used to admit 25-50 percent of each campus's freshman class; the rest were admitted on the basis of certain academic factors alone. Now, the full 14 criteria are used in evaluating all applications -- an approach intended to facilitate decision-making in the highly competitive UC admissions environment, where differences among students' quantitative academic records are often very fine.

In adopting comprehensive review, the Board of Regents requested that the Academic Senate provide an annual assessment of its implementation. The report on the first year of implementation was presented to the regents at their meeting today (Nov. 14) in San Francisco.

"Our analysis found that academic achievement is still by far the predominant consideration in UC admissions and that access to UC has been maintained for students of all demographic backgrounds," said Barbara A. Sawrey, a chemistry professor at UC San Diego and chair of the Academic Senate's Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS), which authored the report. "We also expect that the process will be fine-tuned each year, and we have identified several issues for further study and discussion to facilitate that fine-tuning."

Specifically, the report makes the following findings:

  • All six selective campuses were successful in implementing comprehensive review within UC policy and guidelines.
  • The campuses went to great lengths to ensure consistency in their admissions decisions and integrity in their processes.
  • The academic preparation of the entering class, as measured by traditional indicators such as high school grade point average, admissions test scores, and the breadth and depth of high school coursework completed, has generally remained stable or improved slightly under comprehensive review.
  • The degree to which the campuses are accessible to low-income or educationally disadvantaged students has not declined, and some campuses have seen increases.

Areas the report identifies for further study and discussion include:

  • As students admitted under comprehensive review continue their studies at UC, records of their academic performance should be tracked for further analysis.
  • Campuses already verify the accuracy of applicants' self-reported academic record. Two pilot programs verified additional information in the application during the first year of comprehensive review, and a systemwide verification process will begin in the fall 2003 admissions process to ensure the reliability of information on the application.
  • The ability to achieve academically while overcoming adversity is a factor worthy of consideration in the admissions process. BOARS encourages campuses to conduct further analyses to illuminate the role of "hardship" in the admissions process -- and to demonstrate clearly the overwhelming role of academic achievement in the admission decision.
  • UC campuses have done a generally good job of explaining their admissions processes, but more can be done to enhance the clarity of the process for students and parents. To this end, BOARS will undertake a review of UC communications on admissions issues.

The full report is available at:

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