A new undergraduate admissions policy that calls for a more personal, qualitative look at the academic and personal achievements of each student applicant has been established in response to policy changes made by the UC Regents.
"The new policy ensures we treat each applicant as an individual. Each and every one of our applicants has worked extremely hard to get to this point. Most of them have achieved at very high levels. Our new policy was developed to make sure that all applicants to Berkeley get the careful, thorough review they deserve," said Pat Hayashi, associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment.
Under the new policy, the admissions office will read every single application for the fall '98 semester, including the personal essays submitted by the applicants. "Some of them will be read up to four times," said Bob Laird, director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools.
The reading group will include 31 professional staff from the office of admissions and six Bay Area high school counselors, all of whom will go through a rigorous training and norming process (reading applications, discussing them and agreeing on scores).
Each applicant will be measured against criteria that are "comprehensive, thorough, flexible and fair," said Laird. "Toward that end, the new policy has no formulas or fixed weights assigned to any criteria."
The new policy continues a move away from an academic index score (a traditional formula combining GPA and SAT scores) in favor of a comprehensive assessment of each applicant's accomplishments and the context in which those accomplishments have been achieved.
Applicants will be selected through a process that takes into account a broad range of academic factors as well as achievement and leadership in non-academic areas, honors, community service, work experience and character. A student's particular academic and socio-economic environment will also be considered.
In addition, the admissions office will no longer "cap" grade point averages at 4.0, including looking at the pattern of achievement reflected in grades over time.
Laird said his office will also review applications to the extent possible by high school, comparing schools to determine availability of honors courses, extracurricular activities and other relevant information.
Jenny Franchot, associate professor of English who chairs the senate Committee on Admissions, Enrollment and Preparatory Education, said the new policy "enables us to delve beneath GPA and test scores to select the best students."
Franchot said some faculty expressed concern over the new admissions policy.
"The policy will not compromise academic rigor by expanding the admissions criteria, nor will it make it more difficult for underrepresented students to get here," she said.
Franchot added that the continued formulation of a new admissions policy was a call for faculty involvement. "In the wake of SP1 and SP2 (the 1995 regents' decision to eliminate affirmative action in admissions and hiring policies), this campus has taken very seriously the question of shared governance and has sculpted an admissions policy that not only welcomes shared governance, but depends upon it," she said.
Franchot said faculty can contribute in a variety of ways including service on the senate AEPE committee and general participation in the academic senate as well as work in outreach and academic mentoring programs.
The new selection criteria for freshman applicants to Berkeley were developed by the AEPE committee over a one-year period beginning in September 1995.
They were reviewed by the senate's Committee on Educational Policy, the Undergraduate Admissions Coordination Board, and by former Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien. Following an AEPE committee progress report in May 1996, final selection criteria were adopted by the committee in October 1996 and by the admissions coordination board the following month.