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UCLA Eased Entry Rules for the Rich, Well-Connected

Education: Chancellor and top aides gave admissions help to friends or relatives of donors and others, records show. Officials defend practice as a fund-raising aid.

March 21, 1996|RALPH FRAMMOLINO and MARK GLADSTONE and HENRY WEINSTEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

7) The last recourse for rejected applicants is to write appeals, but their chances are slim. Only about 15% prevail. Noted an admissions officer in 1990: "As in past years, the basic approach was to change the decision only in exceptional cases. When a change seems warranted, we usually offered winter and were stingy with fall offers."

8) Each student offered admission must decide whether to accept UCLA's invitation. Many eventually choose to go to college elsewhere.

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The Back Door

According to confidential admissions documents reviewed by The Times:

* Politicians, donors, alumni and celebrities "sponsor" applicants by bringing their names to the attention of high-ranking UCLA officials. Sometimes, they even give them the student's application.

* Some special requests go to Chancellor Charles E. Young's office, either to his personal attention, his top assistants or his vice chancellor for university relations.

* Most requests are received by the UCLA Development Office, where they are handicapped and ranked before a wish list is sent to the admissions office. Development Office officials, who sometimes lobby e-mail, are in constant touch to report the progress of applications back to major donors, potential contributors and favor-seekers.

* VIP names are kept on a separate list of special-interest applicants. Exempted from the normal admissions process, these students are tracked by special computer runs. Their cases are personally decided by the admissions director, who sometimes has to stretch the rules. On occasion, the chancellor has overruled the admissions director's decisions.

* Some special-interest students are rejected, but their appeals go far--a majority prevail.

\o7 SOURCE: UCLA Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Relations With Schools\f7

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