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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Lower-Scoring Students Admitted to Berkeley

October 07, 2003

Re "UC Berkeley Admissions Scrutinized," Oct. 4: As the parent of one of the multitudes not admitted to UC Berkeley last year despite what would once have been a slam-dunk SAT score, I respectfully decline the Board of Regents' call to arms over University of California admissions policies. Even setting aside the question of whether the SAT is the ultimate measure of academic ability -- a can of worms in its own right -- there would be scant cause for indignation in the fact that 381 students were admitted to Cal in 2002 with scores under 1,000.

The number of admissions in question is statistically insignificant, representing just over 1% of Cal's total 2002 applicant pool. If Cal rescinded these 381 admissions, it would only create space for fewer than one in 57 of the rejected applicants who scored over 1,000. I view the regents' "study" as an attempt to inflame the people of California over what is characterized, in terms however veiled, as giveaways to minorities. The issue isn't the number of "unqualified" admissions. Rather, it is the extent to which the population of qualified California students outstrips the capacity of our state postsecondary system, no matter how high the entry barriers are set. Stirring the public's ire against a handful of exceptional applicants is not helpful.

Margaret Daugherty

Los Angeles

It would appear scandalous that less-than-qualified applicants are admitted to UC Berkeley while more-qualified ones are rejected. Is this fair? Are these all so-called student athletes? What other qualifications did they have? I want to know, in the summer of 2006 or 2007, what percentage of these less-qualified applicants have graduated college. Is anyone really doing these less-qualified applicants a favor by admitting them to a highly selective, competitive research university? Or would they be more appropriate students in a community college or the California State University?

Daniel J. Fink

Los Angeles

As a graduate student at UC Berkeley, I continue to be disappointed with the lack of students who are educated in matters beyond those that can be learned in a class or in a book. If UC Berkeley has a system in place where it admits students who show true accomplishments beyond high standardized test scores, and I am still disappointed, then I would hate to think of a situation in which I would have to attend classes with students who are only academically enriched.

An ideal learning environment is one in which students can learn about the conditions of people at all levels of income, cultural background and lifestyles from each other, not just from a book. This can only be accomplished by having an admissions process that looks at an applicant's accomplishments beyond test scores, such as his or her background, ability to overcome obstacles and promise to succeed.

Claudia Medina

Silver Lake

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