Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What Is The Purpose of College Entrance Requirements?

I believe in merit. I think the best students should get into the best colleges. Academic ability and promise should be the key points in any school admissions program.

So I'm somewhat dismayed to read that the University of California system is considering lowering its standards.

Now, the UC president and regents are weighing changes to the admissions process that include dropping the SAT subject tests, loosening course requirements, and lowering the minimum grade point average.

If the SAT subject tests don't demonstrate academic ability or promise, get rid of them. If course requirements don't directly relate to success in the course, but instead serve as some sort of artificial buffer, then get rid of them. If GPA doesn't correlate to academic success in college, don't consider it.

I'm forced to wonder, though, why schools would want to lower admissions requirements when already, too many of our college and university students need remedial math and English courses.

I also have concerns about this point:

Students who meet admission criteria now and are deemed to be in the top 12.5 percent of high school students are guaranteed admission to at least one UC campus – usually less-competitive UC Riverside or UC Merced.

That guarantee has been in place since 1960.

The plan endorsed by Rashid and other faculty members would limit the guarantee to only the top 9 percent of students.

Finally, it would make all students who meet the minimum UC criteria "entitled to review" – an assurance that admissions officials would look at more than just their grades and test scores, Rashid said.

In other words, UC would be creating a program that would exclude some higher-qualified students in favor of lesser-qualified (specifically lower-income and minority) students. This sounds to me like it might be an attempt to circumvent Proposition 209 and create another affirmative action program.

I have a solution for this point, brought up in the first article linked above:

"Many thousands of high-achieving students are failing because of a trifling variance from the eligibility policy – they didn't take a subject test or missed a (required) course," he said.

That's why California has so many community colleges.


Bill said...

UC has been struggling with finding a way to avoid Prop. 209. This is just another run at the same thing.

The runaway higher education budget is hardly the only thing that is leading California headlong into bankruptcy, but it is a factor.

We fund an extensive community college system for those who failed to take the required courses for UC. We simply don't need to burden UC further with those who lack the basic preparation.

It should be apparent that the drive to shovel everyone into a four-year college program will simply destroy the colleges. How long are we going to let our university system degenerate into a watered down version of what we used to call high school?

Anonymous said...

But UC is getting exactly what its policy promotes a population on under-achieving in-state students and high-achieving out-of-state students. This creates the impression that California students are dumber than other students.

I'm not entirely sure exactly -why- the UC system wants to create this situation that will merely discourage large numbers of higher-risk lower-achieving students from actually achieving great things in college. Maybe they just want to oppress minorities.

Hopefully the enlightened prop 209 supporters can bring some colorblind merit-based equality to the UC system and promote academic achievement for all CA students.