Saturday, November 22, 2003

Getting Into UC

At first glance, the title of this LA Times article did not surprise me:“Study Links UC Entry, Social Class”

An easy ‘duh’ type conclusion, I thought.

But after I glanced at the chart generated by the LA Times, my interest was piqued. I would conclude this: this study links UC entry with attending a few particular private schools. The top ten schools, all but one private, have over 72% of their students admitted to the UC system. Whoa.

How did all of these kids get accepted to UC? I think that's pretty amazing.
Does that mean these private schools gave mostly A’s to their kids? This doesn’t happen in most public schools, does it?

Check out this enlightening comment by one of the authors of this study:
    "In essence, we have a tripartite school system in California," Karabel said. "At the top are elite private schools, which in many cases come close to guaranteeing their students a place in the UC system; then we have a tier of largely suburban public schools that give people a good shot, but well short of guarantee; then there are the masses of schools at which getting in to UC is an extremely rare event."
Yup, I agree, though I would like to read this study first hand, published by UC Press, called Unequal Opportunity by Jerome Karabel, Isaac Martin and Sean Jaquez.

To add this, the LAT, the next day, offered this frustrating perspective about two UC schools in particular: “UCLA, Cal Rejections Baffle High SAT Scorers”.
    The debate over admissions has flared in the past two months, with disclosure of a report by UC Board of Regents Chairman John J. Moores showing that even as thousands were rejected at the high end of the SAT scale at UC Berkeley last year, hundreds with scores of 1000 or below were accepted.

    Data subsequently released by the University of California show that UC Berkeley and UCLA in the past two years collectively have rejected more than 10,000 applicants who scored above 1400 (out of a possible 1600) on the SAT. That’s nearly half the applicants in that category who applied to Berkeley, and nearly a third of those who applied to UCLA.

But having gone to UCLA as an undergraduate, this may be a blessing in disguise. My undergrad classes were huge. It was truly not a great learning experience to be 1 out of 500. As Calpundit notes, the other UC schools are very good schools. I would add, go there and count your blessings.

I think that the dilemma in both of these articles is fairness: how can we make getting into a scarce resource, attending a UC school, more fair? To be guaranteed a spot merely because of attendance at the right private school seems to be going the wrong way down the road to fairness. And as to getting into UCLA and UC Berkeley specifically, the dilemma seems to be: could you please explain the rules to us? For that matter, are there any rules because it's not strictly SAT scores and grades anymore.