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Private Schools Top List for UC Admissions

November 24, 2003

Re "Study Links UC Entry, Social Class," Nov. 19: How disingenuous of the University of California sociologists to make the debate over UC admissions a debate over class warfare.

Admissions standards must be about academically based qualifications. It may be that SAT scores are not as useful as once thought. But to substitute subjective criteria such as whether an applicant's parents went to college or what high school the applicant attended, which have no bearing on qualifications, is outrageous and, in the end, counterproductive. If productive, educated and successful citizens/voters/taxpayers see their children denied admission to "prestigious" UC schools in favor of less-qualified applicants, the UC system will lose the support of the very people who are paying the taxes to support it.

Why do you suppose that 21 of the top 25 high schools feeding students are private? Because the public secondary school system has already been rendered mediocre by the same do-gooders who now want to "fix" the UC system.

David R. Gillespie

Bonita, Calif.

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I am president of the Western Assn. for College Admission Counseling. Your article points to the serious need for public school students to have access to college counseling. The resources mentioned by the counselor from a high-performing public school -- creation of high expectations, a solid college prep curriculum, a course on the college admissions process -- do not require a great deal of money. What's required is the formation of a team of administrators, counselors and teachers who proactively engage students and their families in the college admissions process.

Counseling support can eliminate the effect of social class, yet our students do not have adequate access to this support. California counselors struggle with the highest student caseloads in the country. The numbers won't improve until Californians make counseling for college a priority.

Esther B. Hugo

Manhattan Beach

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There was not one mention of how hard the students are made to work at these so-called "elite" prep schools. The article made it sound like they handed out UC admissions just for paying the tuition. It's not social class that gets you into Cal -- it's hard work!

Philip J. Terhorst

Irvine

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It will be some consolation to ambitious young people rejected by UCLA and UC Berkeley to consider what would have been the prospects for the youngster described below had he sought admission to an elite university:

"I interviewed a very old man who had been one of his masters at Eton. He just cursed him for being a slacker and wasting the time.... he still remembered vividly his annoyance at ... [the student's] ... throwing away the chances that were offered him. But when I began to put leading questions to him that after all he did do a helluva lot of reading, he said, 'Yes, yes, yes. He did a lot of reading, but it wasn't on the syllabus.' " Bernard Crick, biographer of George Orwell, in an interview for the Discovery Channel for a Great Books presentation on "1984."

Tom Shuford

Lenoir, N.C.

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