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Getting in the door at UC

February 11, 2009

Re "UC panel expands applicant pool," Feb. 6

The latest change to the University of California's admissions rules is yet another thinly disguised and unconstitutional effort by the regents to circumvent the state's ban on affirmative action.

By insisting that "changes will not affect the number of spots available at the university's campuses and are not intended to increase the number of students who enroll, only those eligible to apply," UC reveals its intention. For what is the point of accepting more applications from minority students, unless the university hopes to admit them? And how will the university admit greater numbers of minority applicants, with a static number of freshman spots?

By rejecting the applications of non-minority students to make room -- that's how. That's affirmative action, no matter how the regents couch it, and it's illegal.

Steve Meister

Sherman Oaks

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I was part of UC Santa Barbara's efforts to increase access to college education among students attending high schools with the lowest success rates of application and admission to UC.

Following my retirement in 2006, I performed two studies. The first demonstrated that shifting our emphasis to admission based on high school ranking (rather than test scores) was the only thing that increased enrollment of students from low-performing high schools.

This raised the question: How well did these students do at UCSB? We concluded that students with the lowest internal ratings for admission (which include SATs and grades) were only slightly more likely to drop out than the average.

This group would include many of the students admitted largely on the basis of high school academic rank.

The implication of this research is that reducing emphasis on standardized tests in favor of high school standing, as proposed, will increase access to underserved groups of students without lowering standards at the university.

Thomas Ostwald

Santa Barbara

The writer was director of school-university partnerships, UCSB, 1998-2006.

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Re "Put merit first," Letters, Feb. 7

Your article about the young San Pedro woman struggling to stay enrolled at UCLA, and the letters in response to it, reveal a painful truth:

We love slumdog millionaires in the movies. But in real life, potential slumdog millionaires, doctors, teachers and social workers need not apply to UCLA.

Roger Dingman

Harbor City

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