Thursday, Sept. 18, 2003
Lavonne Luquis (510) 987-9194
Hanan Eisenman (510) 587-6194


Virtually every measure of academic excellence has grown stronger under the comprehensive review policy that has guided freshman admissions at the University of California for the past two years, according to a faculty report presented to the UC Board of Regents today (Sept. 18).

In addition, the proportions of students admitted to selective campuses from low-income families, families with no previous experience with college, low performing schools and rural areas are also higher than they were before comprehensive review was implemented in 2001 for the freshman class applying to enter UC in the Fall of 2002.

Under comprehensive review, applications from students demonstrating high academic accomplishment are given priority and merit is assessed in terms of academic and personal achievements, taking into consideration the opportunities available to students at their schools. No applicants are denied without a comprehensive review of their files.

When comprehensive review started, some expressed concern that the academic quality of UC's entering freshmen might be diminished. According to the Academic Senate, this has not occurred. Moreover, despite increasing selectivity that means many are not admitted at the university's most competitive campuses, UC continues to enroll the same proportion of high-achieving students that it did before comprehensive review was implemented. Among admitted students in the top one-third of UC applicants (as measured by high school GPA and test scores), between 63 and 65 percent enroll at UC, a proportion that has held steady for the past five years.

Meanwhile, in a reflection of the state's changing demographics, the proportion of underrepresented students in UC's applicant pool increased from 18.9 percent in 2001 to 20.9 percent in 2003. Underrepresented students also increased as a proportion of the admitted class at all selective campuses during the same period.

"The number of applicants to all of our campuses is growing, which means the campuses are becoming ever more selective," said Barbara Sawrey, chair of the university's Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) . "Comprehensive review is helping campuses make difficult choices while continuing to provide access to high-achieving students from across the state."

Last November, BOARS delivered a report to the regents that summarized the campuses first year experiences with comprehensive review. The board's second annual report includes the following highlights:

- The small reduction in overall enrollment rates that UC has experienced (from 56.6 percent of all applicants who enrolled in 1994 to 53.4 percent in 2002) is more likely to reflect admitted students' choice to enroll in less expensive institutions closer to home than high-achieving students opting for private selective institutions.

- The majority of high-achieving applicants denied at Berkeley and UCLA stay within the UC system, and their proportion did not change substantially between 1995 and 2002. However, underrepresented students in this top category increasingly chose to attend private selective schools.

- This year, faculty members on all six campuses employing comprehensive review read a sample of Fall 2002 application files to confirm that decisions were consistent with faculty policy and values. They did not find any problems with decisions made by admissions staff and determined that the scores staff gave applications were "reasoned, consistent and defensible."

- UC's verification of non-academic information provided by students did not find evidence of falsification.

- A subcommittee of admission directors has recommended changes to the personal statement prompt for Fall 2004 applicants. The open-ended prompt would be replaced by three shorter, more specific prompts focusing on academic preparation, potential to contribute to the campus community and other information students may choose to share. The change aims to elicit more informative personal statements.

The Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools report is available on the Web at: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/sept03/302attach.pdf

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