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Campus responds to L.A. Times reporting

08 October 2003

A story that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, Oct. 4, grossly mischaracterized some results of Berkeley’s 2002 admissions process, campus officials said this week.

The article, which was picked up by other media following its publication in the Times, was based on an analysis by UC Regent John Moores suggesting that marginally academically qualified students might be admitted to Berkeley at the expense of more highly qualified applicants. That claim and others presented in the Times article are untrue, according to admissions officials and senior Berkeley administrators, who also note that all aspects of Berkeley’s Comprehensive Review policy adhere to UC Regents’ policy on admissions.

In a letter to UC President Robert Dynes, Chancellor Berdahl addresses two fundamental misunderstandings in the analysis. His two key points are that detailed data clearly show that students who score high on the SAT I are not turned away, and that the small percentage of students admitted with low test scores all showed impressive overall academic and personal achievements — and have succeeded since their arrival at Berkeley.

Campus data show that 98 percent of California residents who score above 1400 on the SAT 1 and do not apply to the campus’s three most competitive engineering majors are admitted.

“In the case of denied students with high scores, we found that in virtually every case one or more of four factors was at work,” said Berdahl. “Either (1) the students had withdrawn their applications and were thus coded as ‘non-admits’ when they had not in fact been denied admission; (2) they were out-of-state applicants, for whom, in accordance with faculty policy, the campus establishes higher standards than for in-state students; (3) their GPAs and other academic factors were below average for Berkeley admits; or (4) they had applied to one of three very highly competitive majors in the College of Engineering.”

As for the students with SAT 1 scores below 1000, Berdahl said, “nearly half ranked in the top 4 percent of their graduating class, and many provided ACT scores which, when translated to an SAT I equivalency scale, were well above 1000. Additionally, most had achieved this level of excellence despite multiple, significant socioeconomic and educational challenges. Most important, first-year performance data for these students indicates they are doing well at Berkeley: not one has left due to academic deficiency.” For information on this issue, visit newscenter.berkeley.edu.