UC admissions to give second chance to rejected students who don’t meet requirements – Times-Herald

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The University of California, in an effort to expand admissions for disadvantaged students, will give a second chance to thousands of rejected applicants to California high schools who had a 3.0 GPA but failed to complete a required series of 15 college preparatory courses.

But there’s a catch to getting guaranteed a spot at highly competitive universities: Students must first successfully complete the missing lower-division and general education courses at a community college and earn the honors required for the program.

The proposed pilot program, unveiled Wednesday at the Board of Regents meeting in San Diego, targets about 3,700 of UC California’s 10,000 first-year applicants who do not meet the system’s freshman admissions requirements — about half of whom were low. income, underrepresented students of color, or the first in their families to attend college.

Starting next year, students who qualify for the pilot program will be guaranteed a spot at one of UC Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz campuses. They will still be eligible to apply to the three most popular campuses – UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego – although admission will not be guaranteed.

The program comes amid steep declines in community college enrollments and concerns from the University of California and Cal State University about declining numbers of students transferring to four-year campuses. Enrollment at all universities, private and public, fell by nearly a quarter of a million students in fall 2021 compared to fall 2019 before the pandemic — a decline largely driven by a nearly 10% drop in enrollment at community colleges, according to a survey released this year. National Student Clearinghouse.

The Los Angeles Community College District saw an even bigger drop in enrollment, 11% from fall 2020 to fall 2021 and 20% over the past two years, Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez told the board of trustees last fall. The community college district is serving students who have been hit hard by the pandemic in Los Angeles County, which has seen high rates of COVID-19 in some areas.

The pilot program could help reverse that trend, said Abiha Hussain, a fourth-year student at UCLA who transferred from Palomar College in San Marcos.

“It will convince many more students to stay in school if they know that transferring to UC is actually a tangible reality,” Hussain said. “This will provide much greater access to disadvantaged students and others, and enrich UC with more representation.”

Hussain said some of her female friends didn’t complete UC requirements in high school because “life got in the way.” One friend, she said, dropped out of school for a year when her mother died and didn’t finish the required four years of English.

In some cases, California schools do not offer all of the required courses, which include four years of English, three years of math, two years of science, history, and a language other than English, one year of fine or performing arts, and a year of electives. Among California’s 3,700 high schools, only 1,867 offered a full set of 15 courses last year, according to data presented at Wednesday’s meeting.

Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley, a former chancellor of the California Community Colleges who now heads the Future Colleges Foundation, said the pilot program could provide a concrete path to success for underserved students who find attending UC an impossible dream.

“Being able to capture them, give them the opportunity to attend UC and give them a road map to succeed will send a huge positive signal to California’s low-income communities and communities of color that UC is serious about finding talent. in all places,” Oakley said.

The state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom asked UC to establish a three-year program that will begin in the fall of 2023. The university system already offers several other transfer guarantee programs between certain community colleges and UC campuses. But as part of the pilot program, UC will make a conditional offer shortly after admissions decisions are released in the spring to incentivize students who would otherwise have been rejected by their chosen campus.

The program also aims to diversify UC’s transfer student population and increase the number of public colleges from which the system’s nine campuses draw applicants. Most students transfer to UC from only 15 of the system’s 116 colleges.

A key feature that helps students succeed is more practical academic support and advice. Students accepted into the Dual Enrollment Program will be assigned a UC Coordinator who will help them stay on track and receive priority registration at their community college, access to UC Libraries, invitations to transfer student events to their chosen UC campus to begin setting up connections, preliminary assessment of expected financial aid and exemption from application fees.

For some advocates, however, the University of California still has work to do to open access to transfer students.

A 2018 report on transfer initiatives between the UC and California Community Colleges systems, presented by the regents on Wednesday, details several steps taken to open access and prepare more students to enroll at a four-year university.

The number of public community college students meeting transfer requirements — typically completing 60 or more units with at least a 2.0 GPA and passing math and English — increased from 72,936 to 105,343, or 44%, from 2011 to 2020.

But growth has been uneven across gender and race. The number of community college students who qualify for transfer increased by 143% among Hispanic students, 54% among black students, and 16% among Asian students, and remained about the same among white students. It declined among American Indian, Alaska Native, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students. Far more women than men are eligible to enter a four-year university.

​​​​​​While UC enrollment increased by 15.6% from 2017 to 2021, the system-wide acceptance rate fell from 75.6% to 72.5% over that period. The most competitive campuses, such as UCLA and UC Berkeley, have much lower acceptance rates.

The report offered several recommendations to improve access and success for community college transfer students, including setting specific admissions goals, streamlining transfer requirements, and further research into the barriers and opportunities students face.

But Audrey Dow of the College Opportunity Campaign was impressed. She said UC should guarantee a system-wide transfer guarantee to qualified students, not individual campuses — and take more action rather than continuing to study the problem.

“By suggesting one solution, the research just pushes away the hard decisions,” she said.

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