Several students said they supported a new policy change to the University of California’s undergraduate admissions, but felt that part of the change, which allows admission officers to request recommendation letters, would put some students at a disadvantage.
The University of California Board of Regents approved the augmented review process for undergraduate admissions Thursday.
Under this policy, admissions officers can ask up to 15 percent of all applicants to provide additional information on their application. Students can choose to submit one or more supplemental items from three categories, including a written response to a questionnaire, high school senior year grades and up to two letters of recommendation.
Applicants can also submit letters of recommendation or supplemental materials if they are applying for departments that already require supplements to applications, like nursing and creative and performing arts departments.
Devon Graves, the 2018-2019 student regent-designate, said even though he thinks the policy may make applying more difficult for students from lower-income schools, he supports this proposal as long as campuses’ academic senates track the impact of this policy.
“I definitely support this proposal,” Graves said. “(I am) in favor of making sure to review how this proposal impacts the admission process next year and to see if any follow-up changes need to be made.”
Graves added he thinks campuses should be clear in explaining this review process to students.
Rafi Sands, student advisor to the regents, said he thinks there are better ways to assess an applicant’s quality than recommendation letters.
“I myself am not in agreement that recommendation letters should be a part of the undergraduate admission process,” Sands said. “I think it puts particular groups (of students) at a disadvantage. If they come from schools with few resources, it is going to be harder to get a good letter of recommendation that truly reflects their ability.”
However, some students said they like parts of the augmented review process because they think it allows admissions officers to have a more holistic view of students.
Raymond Le, a rising third-year biology student, said he thinks the augmented review process is an overall improvement to the admissions process.
“(The augmented review process) allows applicants who have challenges or certain background problems to really show themselves (and) give admission officers a more holistic view of themselves as more than just students,” he said.
Le added he thinks recommendation letters only say nice things about students and do not make much of an impact on their chances of getting admitted.
“Letters of recommendations are a very hit-or-miss option,” he said. “Chances are these letters aren’t going to help unless you’re very close to the mentor who writes it.”
Matthew Obusan, a rising third-year human biology and society student, said he thinks recommendation letters can give an applicant an advantage by providing another perspective.
“It’s a unique way to add to the application,” he said. “But the university should expand on how it will choose the 15 percent, (because letters of recommendation) can add an advantage to some students.”