Minority college admissions rise without using quotas

Calif. system credits stepped-up outreach

April 05, 2001|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - The percentage of minority students admitted to the University of California has nearly reached affirmative action levels, according to figures released this week. In addition, the system admitted 10 percent more Californians than last year.

Of the students the UC system admitted for the fall 2001 freshman class, 18.6 percent were black, Latino, Chicano and American Indian. That's a percentage point increase over last year and just shy of 1997's 18.8 percent, the last time the university used racial preferences in admissions.

UC officials believe outreach efforts and a new program that admitted the top 4 percent of each high school regardless of students' SAT scores may have played a role in the increase.

Although admissions and enrollment figures tend to correspond, the makeup of the freshman class won't be known until classes start in the fall.

"We're especially pleased with the high increase in underrepresented students who were admitted," said Dennis Galligani, associate vice president for the UC system student academic services. "Certainly we'd like to believe the investment in our outreach efforts is paying off."

Such increases in underrepresented minorities are not true of the university's most selective campuses. While UC Berkeley saw underrepresented minorities increase to nearly 16 percent of the total number of admitted freshmen, the percentage lags behind the 1997 level of 22 percent.

Overall, the UC system admitted 46,130 students who are Californians, a 10 percent increase over last year. Nine out of every 10 admitted freshmen are Californians.

For the first time, the UC system admitted the top 4 percent of each high school in the state regardless of the students' SAT scores, as long as they had taken the required courses. While the program appears to have increased applications 13.6 percent among underrepresented minorities at participating public high schools, UC officials haven't analyzed whether it has an impact on admissions increases.

In 1995, UC regents banned the practice of using racial preferences in college admissions. Voters outlawed it one year later when they approved Proposition 209. Since then, the university has initiated or proposed a number of programs aimed at diversifying its eight undergraduate campuses.

It has beefed up outreach in low-income high schools. The UC faculty is reviewing a proposal that would admit from the top 4 percent up to the top 12.5 percent of graduating classes regardless of students' standardized test scores, provided they spend the first two years at a community college.

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