Bruin Alumni Association
Racial Games: UCLA’s Biased Admissions Process

Chapter 1 - A Brave New World

Chapter 2 - A Pale Imitiation

Chapter 3 - Things Fall Apart

Chapter 4 - Are You a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5?

Chapter 5 - Speaking Out

Racial Games: UCLA’s Biased Admissions Process

Chapter 4
Are You a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5?

    It all seems quite common-sense – giving a boost to students who performed well despite the obstacles in their way.  But the process of comprehensive review is insultingly oversimplified.  UCLA boils down the entirety of an applicant’s life into three score ranges of 1-5, 1-5, and 1-6.  Making the situation worse is the deliberate lack of verification or quantification.  Personal statements, newly emphasized, are a place in which a student can “explain” that an after-school job caused their low test scores and GPA.  But can UCLA really verify this?  Did the applicant actually work?  And did the applicant truly need to work?  It’s not a big leap to change a job for spending money into a job to support the family; to change a weekends-only position into daily graveyard shifts.

    Even if our applicant is telling the truth about a 30 hours-per-week job to help pay the bills, can we say definitely that it had a negative effect on scholastic achievement?  As most college students will attest, scheduled obligations like employment tend to teach time-management, so that in the end, the student does more with less studying time.  And this is the subjectivity introduced by just one factor for which comprehensive review gives preference.  As noted, only God himself knows the full truth of every application.  That He’s not on the UCLA staff should give the Diversitistas pause – but it doesn’t.

    The Diversitistas will sometimes contend that comprehensive review is needed to combat the malleability of GPA and SAT scores.  They contend that test preparation classes are a class- or wealth-based advantage unavailable to (presumably poor) minority applicants.  The selectivity inherent in the argument is amusing to behold.  Radicals who normally wouldn’t accept that the sky is blue if it came from the mouth of a businessman, suddenly swallow whole the test preparation company claims of 150-250 SAT point increases.  One wonders whether they’ve ever seen – or more importantly understand – the legal disclaimer, “Results not typical.”  Sure, you could lose 150 pounds on the South Beach Diet – but don’t count it.  Test preparation is the same way.  Randomized and controlled SAT studies on preparation courses show that the average increase via this wealth-based advantage is 30-40 points.  Very simply, no SAT course can make a genius of a dullard.  For a smart student – the kind who should even be bothering to apply to UCLA – all the “prep” needed is a $20 book and some self-directed study.  That’s something even our prototypical South Central striver can afford.

    The real effect of implementing comprehensive review was not pretty.  While Chand Viswanathan reassured the Bruin that “admissions officials are very careful not to lower the standards,”[i] the reality belied his words.  A significant Wall Street Journal article from July 12, 2002 communicated the real-life injustices perpetrated by the new admissions policy.  The story profiled a number of students, including Stanley Park, who while caring for his single mother stricken with breast cancer, and tutoring to pay the rent, managed to score a 1500 on the SAT.  Hyejin Jae, the daughter of a “struggling Korean-immigrant pastor,” scored a 1410.  Both were rejected by UCLA, as was Albert Shin, an engineer’s son who scored an off-the-charts 1540.[ii]

    By contrast, Blanca Martinez of South Gate High School, who also nursed a mother with breast cancer, scored an 1110 and was admitted.  Martinez’s South Gate classmates Susana Pena, with a pitiful 940 SAT, and Dania Medina with a score of 1050, including a mere 410 on the verbal section, also won admission.  Rosauro Novelo of Belmont High School scored 980, but no matter – UCLA welcomed her with open arms.  Even more satisfying for the diversity lobby is that these successes were mirrored on the scale of entire high schools.  Irvine’s University High, with a 50% white and 41% Asian-American student population, dropped from 89 admits to 69.  By contrast, the 99% Hispanic South Gate surged from 14 admits to 36, and primarily Hispanic Belmont High in Los Angeles shot from 8 to 24.[iii]

The article also revealed a vicious game being played by UCLA to comply with the California Legislature’s Latino Caucus demand to ‘get the numbers up.’  The UC targets, to the tune of $85 million per year, low-performing high schools for “outreach,” which is special attention and resources devoted to encouraging its students to qualify for and apply to UCLA.  But any student attending one of these targeted schools like South Gate or Belmont who also participates in a UC outreach program, earns 7 of the 8 points possible under the “exceptionally challenged” category.  The single additional needed point could come from hardships like single parenting, a background of poverty, or recent immigrant status.[iv]

    UCLA, by combining its outreach program with comprehensive review admissions standards, has created a closed circuit loop designed to admit unqualified minority students.  But they face a grim future.  Overmatched by UCLA’s unrelenting academic demands, they do not graduate.  Or worse, in many ways, they graduate only by retreating into UCLA’s ethnic studies programs – hothouses of racial paranoia which grow the next generation’s Jesse Jackson or Antonio Villaraigosa.

    But despite the insanity of such outcomes, UCLA rolls on heedlessly.  In fact, to ensure that the fix is securely in, students at these underperforming high schools are coached personally by UCLA staff on how to tell a proper sob story.  One outreach memo advised students to “mention if you have lived most of your life in a ghetto, barrio or low-income area.”  Even more remarkably, the same outreach staff which coaches minority applicants how to game the system is among the staff which reads applications.[v]  And while they don’t pass judgment on those they personally coached, the outreach staff also don’t check their “race matters” philosophy at the door.  It is these staff members, cynical enough to teach-woe-is-me strategies to minority applicants, who have a deadly effect on any chance of conducting an impartial admissions process.

    The anecdotal evidence presented in the Journal article was later confirmed in full by a report from UC Berkeley, created at the behest of then-UC Regents Chair John Moores.  The October 21, 2003 report released the statistics on Fall 2002 Berkeley admissions.  It provided clear evidence of a resurrected regime of racial preferences.  Berkeley had rejected 641 applicants with near-perfect SAT scores, while accepting 378 students who scored between a 600 and 1000.  Approximately 62% of the students with low SAT scores were underrepresented minorities, and less than 15% of those in that 600-1000 range were student-athlete exemptions.[vi]

    Less publicized was the fact that UCLA was actually the victor in this race to the bottom.  In 2002, the university admitted 525 students with SATs of 1000 or below and rejected 1,646 students with SATs higher than 1400.[vii]  Of particular note is UCLA’s rejection of 191 students with an SAT score higher than 1500.  The score of exactly 1500 places a student in the 99th percentile of test-takers; any higher and the College Board can only express it as “99+.”  From a numerical standpoint, out of the almost 1.4 million high school students who took the SAT, only 19,717 scored between in the 750-800 range for verbal, and only 24,802 scored in the 750-800 range for the math section.  The group that did both is even smaller.  By contrast, 72% of the entire nation’s test takers exceeded every one of the 113 UCLA admits for students with a 900 or lower SAT.[viii] 


[ii] “Barriers Students Faced Count In University Admission Process,” by Daniel Golden, The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2002

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.