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New Program To Give Ineligible University of California Applicants A Path To Admission

A person wearing a backpack walks toward a large brick building on the UCLA campus.
A student walks toward Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA on March 11, 2020.
(Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images)
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Some California high school graduates who are ineligible for admission to the University of California will soon have a new opportunity to get a spot in the system.

To comply with a request in last year’s state budget, UC is creating a new dual admissions program that will launch in fall 2023. It was presented Wednesday to the academic affairs committee of the system’s board of regents.

The program is targeted toward students who graduate from high school with at least a 3.0 grade point average but without all the required A-G courses, the set of classes students must take to be eligible for admission to UC. Those students would be given a conditional offer of admission to a specific UC campus, but will first need to go to community college and complete their lower-division classes.

A-G classes include math, science, history, English, art, foreign language and electives. Some high schools don’t offer all the A-G course sequences. Among 3,700 California high schools, only 1,867 offered the full set of A-G courses last year, according to data presented at Wednesday's meeting.

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Last year, about 10,000 California freshman UC applicants were ineligible for admission, and about 3,700 of them had a high school grade point average of 3.0 or better. Ineligible freshman applicants were predominately from underrepresented groups, such as Black and Latino students, those who are low-income and those who are the first in their families to attend college.

UC plans to reach out directly to eligible graduating high school students, who will receive letters next spring inviting them to participate in the program.

Running as a three-year pilot through the 2025-26 academic year, the program’s services will continue until students in the 2025-26 cohort are ready to transfer, which could take two or more years.

“There are students that apply to us, and they don’t always know that they have not fulfilled all the A-G requirements," UC Provost Michael Brown told the UC regents. "And so the thought is some of those students are going to go to community college.”

He added: “Can we create a process where we hold on to them and make sure that they have the right advice since they have already signaled a UC intent? And we can hook up support around them so during the two years that they’re going to the community college, they are taking the right courses to return to us as effective transfers later on.”

The pilot launches at a time when the state’s community colleges are reeling from a nearly 20% drop in enrollment this spring since fall 2019, before the onset of the pandemic. California State University and UC are also facing lower numbers of applications from California community college students interested in transferring.

The pilot program is the state’s latest attempt to give students more opportunities to transfer into the UC system, a process that has been criticized as being too difficult and complex.

The program will be available at six of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses: Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz. Those campuses were selected because they already have transfer admission guarantee programs, whereas the system’s other three undergraduate campuses — UCLA, Berkeley and San Diego — do not.

The chair of the academic affairs committee, Lark Park, said during the meeting that she has a problem with UCLA, Berkeley and San Diego not being included in the pilot program.

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“My expectation would be that Berkeley, San Diego and L.A. actually do participate in the same way,” Park said.

Brown said that adding admission guarantees at those campuses would displace other students. The Berkeley, San Diego and Los Angeles campuses are the system’s three most competitive campuses for admissions.

He also said the purpose of the pilot is to determine how effective a transfer guarantee pathway could be for students who didn’t complete their A-G requirements.

“We plan to keep track of the number and the characteristics of students who are offered dual admission, who choose to opt in and ultimately enroll at our campuses,” Brown said. “And I hope ultimately we evaluate how well they do at our campuses. That’s the true proof in the pudding as well.”

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