Counselors look forward to new UC admission rules

Counselors and educators statewide appear to be supportive of a plan to alter the University of Californias admissions requirements that includes eliminating the mandate on SAT subject exams.

The proposal from the UC Academic Senate, would also lower the minimum GPA to 2.8, and reduce the number of students guaranteed admission based on their state rank from the top 12.5 percent to the top 9 percent. At the same time, UC would then accept the top 9 percent from each high school, as opposed to the top 4 percent that it currently accepts. All students, however, would still be required to take either the SAT or ACT.

The proposal cleared the Academic Senate by a vote of 38-12 and the UC Board of Regents is expected to take up the issue in the near future although a specific date has not been set. There is some anticipation, however, that the new requirements are aimed at taking effect for students enrolling in 2012.

Proponents of the change hope the new system will help students who fall short due to a technicality, who have not received clear guidance, or who attend a school that does not offer sufficient UC preparatory courses. The result, supporters hope, will be increased representation from socioeconomically disadvantaged, minority, rural, and inner city students.

This rationale appeals to those who work directly with students to prepare them for college and other post secondary opportunities.

I am in favor of finding ways to allow students from underrepresented groups to be eligible for admission, said George Montgomery, former high school counselor and past president of the California Association of School Counselors.

He also expressed a belief that most high school counselors would back such a move.

Counselors are in the front line in terms of providing educational information and opportunities. Montgomery said. The counselors are responsible to give that information. I think they will be most willing to embrace this opportunity.

Furthermore, those backing the proposal note, under this system students who performed poorly early in their high school career, or who failed to take the right classes or who failed SAT single subject test would now be able to meet UC admission requirements.

We are not growing robots here; we are growing humans, said Kathy Rapkin, counseling department chair at Arcadia High School. Humans make mistakes and that should not prevent students from getting in.

Still there is an argument that the new requirements will penalize students who follow the rules by reducing the number of students who receive guaranteed acceptance based on state rank or following proper procedures. Joe Radding, however, an education programs consultant for the California Department of Education, points out that most of these students will have no problem gaining UC acceptance.

If a student has reasonably good test scores, reasonably good grades and meets all of the A-G course requirements, they will get in somewhere, Radding said.

Some have also expressed concern that the proposal will water down admission standards and possibly cause students to take easier paths through high school. However, according to High Tech High Media Arts counselor and Western Association of College Admission Counseling liaison Edgar Montes, this notion has little validity.

As a counselor I would not make an adjustment, said Montes. I would still recommend students to take challenging classes. If they are looking at private schools they will still need to take a rigorous course load and the SAT subject test.

Bobby Ritter, who has a Master's Degree in Journalism Education from the University of Missouri, is a freelance writer from Fair Oaks andteaches Journalism and English at Roseville High School. more