Here's Why The College Admissions Process Is Bonkers


Dear University of California:

I'm breaking up with you. I know we've had some good times (Go Bruins!), but I feel betrayed. You no longer care about those of us who support you with taxes and annual gifts. As California residents, you've broken your promise to support us. Sorry, but it's better this way.

A recent Los Angeles Times article stated the latest in-state UC acceptance rate was 60 percent, down from 63 percent last year and 79 percent in 1999. Interesting. Perhaps out-of-state (and out-of-country) applicants just happened to have higher test scores and more extracurricular activities.

Or maybe the University of California system weighed the annual out-of-state tuition fees ($36,900) versus the in-state fees ($12,200). Gee whiz, I wasn't a math major, but I can guess which students you'd rather admit.

Except the University of California system was created to provide California students with access to a quality and an affordable college education. Here's an idea -- perhaps you should consider a name change -- University of Some California Students. USCS. Has a nice ring.

My daughter was a high school senior last year and went through the college admissions process. She attended a small girls school in Los Angeles, known for academics and excellent college placement. At the first meeting with her college counselors, they said they could make reasonable predictions for most colleges, but UC admissions were a bit "arbitrary."

My daughter still chose to apply to three UC schools. Her counselors said that if the UC application process operated like most other schools, she was a likely admission at two campuses and one would be a reach. But they warned her -- and used the word "arbitrary" again.

Surprise! She got into none of the three. Now this isn't a mother complaining about her daughter getting screwed over -- although I suppose I am, but I'm joining hundreds of other California mothers (and fathers) whose children were rejected by a UC and are trying to make sense out of a severely broken system.

Out of my daughter's class of 90 girls, four were accepted at UCs. (One of the four, on an athletic scholarship.) Twelve girls in the class will be attending USC. Others will be going to Yale, Dartmouth, Georgetown -- I think the point is clear -- these are smart girls. But sadly the UCs are more interested in students who can pay out-of-state tuition while they ignore many qualified California students.

And this isn't only at my daughter's high school. It's a statewide issue. At many California high schools, students are no longer applying to UCs because it's not worth the application fee. "It's a joke," is a phrase heard over and over. "We won't get in. Why even bother?" Some school counselors are advising students not to apply.

Yes, California has a financial crisis. But why are we taking it out on California's students? Denying them the opportunity to attend their state university? Forcing them to attend colleges out of state and pay higher tuition when we, the residents, are paying taxes to support "our" university system?

I have to imagine that charitable giving to the UCs has dropped off considerably. I know of families who will no longer send money to a system that doesn't support its residents. Some parents have suggested the UCs have a box on the application for parents to check explaining that, "We live in California, but we'll pay out of state tuition if you accept our child." Is that a solution? Possibly. But then can we deduct that extra money from our state taxes? That seems fair, doesn't it?

What a waste of California talent. My daughter will be attending a wonderful college. Out of state. I attended UCLA for graduate school and have given money to UCLA in the past. But the next time they ask, I will politely refuse. "Call the family in Maryland," I'll say. "Or the family in Dubai. Get them to contribute."

We had a good run, UC. But it's over. They say that breaking up is hard to do. Funny, it seems pretty easy to me.

Be well,


Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Parents & College