Posts tagged ‘University of California Berkeley’

November 12, 2012

300 slots in UC Berkeley’s incoming freshman class are reserved for athletes

by Grace

The Berkeley campus will reserve 300 slots in its annual allocation for the admission of students recommended by the IA based on athletic ability.

That is about 7% of their incoming class, a lower percentage than in the Ivy League schools where recruited athletes comprise about 13% of a freshman class.


It has long been admissions policy at the University of California to reserve slots for students of lesser academic achievement in order to meet larger policy ends, most particularly to accommodate The Regents’ policy that each campus should enroll a “student body . . . that encompasses the broad diversity of cultural, racial, geographic, and socio-economic backgrounds characteristic of California.” The campus is fully aware that such policies entail admitting some students at risk.

The Guiding Principles for admission set forth the priority of academic achievement for what is acceptable for acceptance, but it also make clear that the criteria for admission are based on a broad definition of merit, and that can include athletic achievement as well as other kinds of extracurricular activities.

‘Holistic review’

All students at Berkeley are admitted through a process of holistic review. In holistic review, special talents of all sorts play an important role. A nationally recognized musician will get special consideration, for example, because achievement at that level requires dedication and determination, and because having a recognized talent on campus brings value. Similarly, excellence in athletics can tell us about an applicant’s character, dedication, determination, potential for leadership, and the contribution that an applicant can make to the campus. Excellence and achievement in athletics is therefore properly one of the criteria that factors into the holistic review process for undergraduate admissions at Berkeley. A considerable number of students who are not admitted as student athletes do have an athletic background as a significant contributing factor in their admission. Athletic competition over an entire high school career, leadership on a team, or athletic performance (MVP, for example) will count as a plus for general admission. If the student’s team was successful at a regional, state, or national level, it will count even more. One of the less well-understood features of Berkeley admissions is that no one is admitted to Berkeley on academic achievement alone.

It’s nice that Berkeley spells out their policy for admitting athletes in such detail.  I haven’t seen any similarly detailed reporting on their quotas for other groups of students that also enhance campus diversity, such as musicians, ethnic minorities, New Yorkers, Mormons, lesbians, left-handed ex-Marines, etc.  I suspect for that you have to read between the lines in their Freshman Selection Criteria report.

Berkeley offers athletic scholarships, apparently self-funded by revenue from ticket/media revenues and donations.

Here’s a link for more information about Berkeley’s “policies, and practices affecting the composition of the Berkeley undergraduate student population.

Related:  The importance of sports as a hook for admission to highly selective colleges (Cost of College)

August 14, 2012

How California does college admissions for state residents

by Grace

State residents must adhere to very specific requirements to gain admission into the University of California system.

First, they must complete a minimum of 15 specific college-preparatory courses, with at least 11 finished before senior year.  They must have a GPA of 3.0 or better in these courses with no grade below a C.  Additionally, they must take the ACT Plus Writing or the SAT Reasoning Test by December of senior year.

Top students are guaranteed admission to a UC school provided space is availabe.

If you’re a state resident who has met the minimum requirements and aren’t admitted to any UC campus to which you apply, you’ll be offered a spot at another campus if space is available, provided:

  • You rank in the top 9 percent of California high school students, according to our admissions index, or
  • You rank in the top 9 percent of your graduating class at a participating high school. We refer to this as “Eligible in the Local Context” (ELC).

If you click on the links in the two bullet point items above, you will see the details on calculating if a student qualifies under one of the two categories.  On first glance the process seems a bit complicated, but I’m sure most California high school students and their guidance counselors manage to figure it out.

Then there are two exceptions to minimum requirements allowing a student to be considered for admission, although it isn’t completely clear if these apply to state residents as well as out-of-state applicants.

Admission by exam:

If you don’t meet UC’s minimum requirements, you may be considered for admission to UC if you earn high scores on the ACT Plus Writing or SAT Reasoning Test and two SAT Subject Tests.

Admission by exception:

Sometimes even the most creative, focused and intellectually passionate students aren’t able to fulfill our admission requirements. Even these students have a chance to attend UC.

The three most selective UC schools are UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Irvine, in that order.  The number of out-of-state students allowed in the UC system is capped at 10%, recently increased from 6%.

California State Colleges
Admission to California State College schools is presumably less selective, but similarly structured with well-defined guidelines that also appear a bit complicated.  Students and their families can use the CSUMentor , a website designed to help “in  planning for college, in selecting the appropriate CSU campus to attend, in planning how to finance their education, and in applying for admission”.  Students as young as sixth grade can begin using the CSU Mentor to plan for admission to a California state school.

The California process is a sharp contrast to the one in New York, where the applications to state schools are not governed by such well-defined rules.

December 16, 2011

Berkeley will offer financial aid to ‘middle-class’ families

by Grace

The University of California, Berkeley, announced Wednesday that it would offer far more financial aid to middle-class students starting next fall, with families earning up to $140,000 a year expected to contribute no more than 15 percent of their annual income, in what experts described as the most significant such move by a public institution.

While Berkeley has been enrolling low-income and wealthy students at increasing rates,  the relative number of middle-class students has declined.

Copying the Ivies

While several elite private universities — including the Ivy League triumvirate of Harvard, Princeton and Yale — offer similar programs for families with incomes up to $200,000, experts said that Berkeley was the first public university to do so. For the most part, public colleges have focused on merit scholarships to lure top students and aid for the poorest families to ensure access, but many now worry that approach has left out a wide group of families.


Berkeley’s definition of middle-class in creating its new financial aid program is a family with income between $80,000 and $140,000 a year. On top of the parental contribution of 15 percent of income, students would also have to pay about $8,000 per year — generally a combination of loans, work-study and private scholarships. At the bottom end of the spectrum, that would make for a total payment of $20,000, a 37.5 percent discount off the $32,000 total of tuition, room and board for California residents. On the upper end, it would be about $29,000, or a 10 percent discount.

(Out-of-state students, who make up 30 percent of Berkeley’s freshman class this year, will get comparable discounts on the first $32,000 of tuition and fees, but still have to pay an additional $23,000.)

Berkeley’s admission rate is 22%, making it clear this financial aid will be limited to top students.

UPDATE:  A commenter on collegeconfidential pointed out that under this new program a family earning $120,000 would pay $26,000 a year for their child to attend Berkeley, a discount of about 19% from the $32,000 COA.  After looking carefully at these numbers, and taking into account that the median household income in California is about $59,000, I have changed my post title from “Berkeley will offer generous financial aid to middle class families” to “Berkeley will offer financial aid to ‘middle-class’ families“.

November 10, 2011

Should you pay a $120,000+ premium for an elite college?

by Grace

A trend among higher income families is not to pay the premium for an elite college.

Twenty-two percent of students from families with annual household incomes above $100,000 attended public, two-year schools in the 2010-2011 academic year, up from 12% the previous year, according to a report from student-loan company Sallie Mae.

The combination of a prolonged “recession”, skyrocketing college costs, and student loan horror stories  are making many people more wary about overspending for a college degree.  This Wall Street Journal story profiles some students who could have attended elite colleges but decided it was not worth the extra money.

Mr. Schwartz, 18 years old, was accepted at Cornell University but enrolled instead at City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College, which is free.

Free!  It’s hard to beat free money.

Jesse Yeh, a 20-year-old California resident, chose the University of California at Berkeley over Stanford University. Tuition at Berkeley, a state school, is about $14,460 for in-state students. At Stanford, it’s $40,050.

But Yeh has been shut out of some classes and is concerned that he may not graduate in four years.

Natasha Pearson, 19, questions her decision to attend the City University of New York’s Hunter College. She says she turned down an offer from Boston College after the school said her family would need to pitch in $30,000 annually.

She says there’s a “wide variety” of academic ability among her Hunter classmates and that many of her courses are taught by graduate students, rather than by full professors.

“I can’t help but wonder, had I gone to BC, where that could have taken me,” she says.

As touched upon in this article, the added value of an elite school usually includes an enhanced alumni network, a more appropriate peer group, and the sometimes important cachet of that impressive degree.  Additionally, a student is less likely to be lost in the crowd and more likely to graduate in four years.  Can a student find all these advantages in a less expensive college?  Yes, but it depends on the field of study and is much less probable.

It’s complicated

The college search and selection process is made more complicated by the need to factor in the financial as well as the academic and social aspects of the appropriate fit for a particular student.  Even if a student can gain admission, it is not always worth the extra premium to attend an elite school.  And it’s never right if it means taking on excessively burdensome debt.  One rule of thumb is that a student should never graduate with student loans that equal more than his first year of salary.  However, given the shaky outlook for job prospects today, even that rule of thumb might be too risky.

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