Readers Do Not Consider Whether Applicants Meet University Requirements When Rating Applications
Figure 1 shows the process that the university undergoes to identify students who do not meet university eligibility requirements and who, therefore, must be admitted by exception. The graphic emphasizes that the readers are not responsible for determining applicant eligibility during their holistic review.
The University Admitted 64 Students Based on Inappropriate Factors
Figure 2 shows that the university admitted 64 students based on factors that favored wealthy and well-connected applicants. Examples include an applicant whose family was friends with a member of the Board of Regents and another whose family promised the campus a large donation. The figure emphasizes that these applicants were less qualified than other applicants to whom the campuses denied admission.
Staff at UC Berkeley Used Vulnerabilities in the Athletics Admissions Processes to Admit an Unqualified Applicant
Figure 3 describes an inappropriate admission example through UC Berkeley’s athletics admissions process. It shows that the child of a major donor applied to Berkeley and received the lowest possible scores on their application. The associate director of the donor relations department contacted a coach about the applicant stating, “The applicant’s father has huge capacity and is already a big supporter of Cal.” The coach falsely identified the applicant as a qualified athlete and notified the director that he had done so. UC Berkeley admitted the applicant as an athletic recruit; subsequently, the applicant’s family donated thousands of dollars to the team. The applicant never competed for the team.
At UCLA, Development Staff and Coaches Admitted an Applicant Because of a Connection to a Donor
Figure 4 describes how UCLA inappropriately tagged an applicant as an athletic recruit because of the applicant’s connection to a donor. It shows that an applicant was denied admission in the regular admission process. A significant donor to UCLA, who was a family friend of the applicant, referred the applicant to the development office as a potential athletic recruit. Afterward, the development staff contacted coaching staff to explain that he had met with the head coach and the donor and would like to follow up with the head coach about next steps. The assistant coach asked, “Does the donor want us to help get the applicant admitted?” The development staff replied, “As this one is a bit nuanced, I’d be happy to discuss tomorrow so we can get back to the donor.” Then the coaching staff identified the applicant as a recruited athlete. The coaching staff noted that the applicant was not skilled enough to play on the team that year or the next year. The coach contacted the development staff stating, “Last chance to object or push forward. Still think this is a good idea?” The development staff replied, “If you feel comfortable, then I think good to move ahead.” UCLA admitted the applicant as an athletic recruit. Following the applicant’s admission, the development staff contacted the donor to say, “I’m happy to confirm that the applicant’s admission to UCLA has been approved. Thank you for all of your generous support.”
UC Berkeley Admitted Children of Staff and Donors Instead of More Qualified Applicants
Figure 5 shows three applicants’ applications and UC Berkeley’s admission decisions for each applicant. The first application has a note that the applicant was the child of a UC Berkeley staff member and received two reader ratings of “Do Not Recommend.” UC Berkeley admitted this applicant. The second application has a note that the applicant was the child of a donor and received two reader ratings of “Do Not Recommend.” However, UC Berkeley admitted this applicant. The third application shows that the applicant was a low-income student, attended a disadvantaged high school, and ranked in the top 9 percent of their high school class. UC Berkeley’s readers both “recommended” this applicant for admission. Regardless, UC Berkeley denied admission to this applicant.
UC Berkeley’s and UCLA’s Lack of Criteria Casts Doubt on the Fairness of Some of Their Admissions Decisions
Figure 6 shows a long line representing all of the applicants to UC Berkeley and UCLA with a barrier to show that only so many applicants would receive an admission offer. Each applicant standing in line has been color coded to show each applicant’s reader rating, but shows that each campus admitted some of its lowest-rated applicants over those applicants with better ratings. The figure illustrates how the campuses admitted applicants they had rated as less competitive than others to whom they denied admission. Because the campuses lacked criteria for selecting which applicants to admit and justification for their admission decisions, these deficiencies cast doubt on the fairness of those admissions decisions.
At Any of the Three Campuses, a Single Reader’s Rating Can Have a Significant Impact on an Applicant’s Chance of Admission
Figure 7 shows that at any of the three campuses, a single reader’s rating can have a significant impact on an applicant’s chance of admission. For example, at UCLA’s College of Letters and Science, an applicant who both readers assign a rating of “2” or “strongly recommend” has a 93 percent chance of admission. An applicant who receives one reader rating of “2” or “strongly recommend” and another reader rating of “3” or “acceptable for admission” has only a 31 percent chance of admission. Reader ratings also affected applicants’ chances of admission at UC Berkeley and UC San Diego.
Applicants’ Ratings at Each Campus Were Highly Dependent on Who Reviewed Their Applications
Figure 8 shows that inconsistency in admissions staff’s evaluations of applicants made some applicants’ scores highly dependent on who evaluated their applications. To illustrate, the figure shows examples of three actual readers at UC Berkeley and their evaluation trends. Reader A was more likely to strongly recommend admission for the applicants they reviewed. Of all of the applications this reader evaluated, 35 percent received “Strongly Recommend” ratings. Reader B was more likely to assign a rating of recommend for the applicants they reviewed. Of all of the applications this reader evaluated, 37 percent received “Recommend” ratings. Reader C was likely to not recommend admission for the applicants they reviewed. Of all of the applications this reader evaluated, 80 percent received “Do Not Recommend” ratings. Our review of readers at UCLA and UC San Diego revealed the same concern.
The Office of the President Has Not Conducted Outreach to Improve High School Participation in Its Local Guarantee Program
Figure 9 shows that about 30 percent of high schools eligible for the local context guarantee program do not participate. This, in turn, prevents the estimated 19,000 graduates of those schools from competing for guaranteed admission. Regardless, the Office of the President has not encouraged high schools to participate or determined why schools do not participate.
Diversity of Admitted Students by Campus, Academic Years 2017–18 Through 2019–20
Figure B.1 displays various demographic information on the admitted student populations to UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, and systemwide for academic years 2017-18 through 2019-20. The demographic characteristics included in the figure are gender, residency, race/ethnicity, first-generation status, first language spoken, school area type for California resident admits, parent income ranges, and whether the admits were eligible in their local context. For the three campuses and systemwide, most admitted students were female, California residents, not first generation college-goers, and were eligible in the local context. Chicano/Latino students, students for whom English was their first language, students who attended suburban high schools, and students whose parental income was over $150,000 made up the largest share of each category.
Diversity of Students Admitted Due to Inappropriate Factors, Academic Years 2013–14 Through 2019–20
Figure B.2 displays various demographic information, including race/ethnicity, parent income, and residency, on students who were admitted to the university due to inappropriate factors for academic years 2013-14 through 2019-20. The majority of these students were white, had parental income over $150,000, and were California residents.
Reason for Ineligibility for Students Admitted by Exception, by Campus, Academic Years 2017–18 Through 2019–20
Figure B.3 displays the university eligibility requirement that students admitted by exception to UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego did not meet. At UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego, 76.9%, 66.4%, and 86.4%, respectively, of admissions by exception were missing college preparatory coursework necessary for university eligibility. At UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego, 15.2%, 9.3%, and 5.3%, respectively, of admissions by exception were ineligible because of a GPA deficiency. At UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego, 1.6%, 0.8%, and 1.9%, respectively, of admissions by exception were missing a standardized test. At UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego, 6.3%, 23.5%, and 6.4%, respectively, of admissions by exception were missing more than one of these eligibility requirements.
Residency Trends of Admitted Students, Academic Years 2015–16 Through 2019–20
Figure B.4 displays residency trends of students admitted to UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, and systemwide, for academic years 2015-16 through 2019-20. At UC Berkeley, the share of California residents as a share of admitted students has remained relatively stable between 61.9% and 67.9% of the campus’s admitted students. Domestic nonresidents increased between 2015-16 and 2017-18 and then declined between 2017-18 and 2019-20 as a share of all admitted students, and have remained between 23.2% and 29.1% of admitted students. Foreign/international students declined as a share of admitted students between 2015-16 and 2017-18 and increased between 2017-18 and 2019-20, and have remained between 8% and 11% of admitted students over that period. At UCLA, California residents declined as a share of admitted students between academic years 2015-16 to 2018-19, and increased in 2019-20 to 60.9% of all admitted students. The share of domestic nonresidents increased between 2015-16 and 2017-18 and then declined between 2017-18 and 2019-20 as a share of all admitted students, and have remained between 23.2% and 29.1% of admitted students. Foreign/international students declined as a proportion of admitted students over that period, from 14.8% to 11.4%. At UC San Diego, the share of California residents as a proportion of all admitted students declined between academic years 2015-16 to 2019-20, from 61.4% to 57.2%. The share of domestic nonresidents increased from 17% to 24.7%, and the share of foreign/international students declined from 21.6% to 18.1%. Systemwide, the share of California residents as a share of admitted students declined from 71.4% to 68.7%. The share of domestic nonresidents increased from 12.8% to 13.9%, and the share of foreign/international students also grew from 15.8% to 17.4%.